After a weekend and another day of political uncertainty, the DMK on Tuesday conceded to the Congress’ demand for 63 seats under a seat-sharing deal for the Tamil Nadu Assembly elections. This is 15 seats more than it contested the last time.
The DMK will put up candidates in 121 seats, less than it has ever contested in the polls.
The deal was announced by Union health minister and AICC general secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad in Delhi and DMK chief M Karunanidhi in Chennai. It was brokered by Pranab Mukherjee, Azad and Ahmed Patel after two rounds of meetings with DMK leaders Dayanidhi Maran and MK Alagiri and sealed after the DMK leaders called on Congress president Sonia Gandhi at her 10, Janpath residence for a brief meeting on Tuesday evening.
Azad, flanked by Alagiri and Maran, announced: “We will work together… We will be able to form the government again.”
Alagiri merely said: “This is a winning alliance.”
Karunanidhi used his literary flourish to announce the pact: "I am happy the deal has been struck. Like 63 nayanmars (Tamil Shaivaite saints), you (Congress) have been given the 63 seats. You should accept it with the same amount of bhakti like nayanmars.”
As reported by HT on Tuesday, Karunanidhi said the DMK, the Indian Union Muslim League and the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) will give up one seat each for the Congress.
With the DMK’s first family facing heat in the 2G scam, the speculation was on whether Karunanidhi had pressed for slowing down of the CBI probe. A Congress leader, when asked, said, “It was not just about seats.” He refused to elaborate.
For the Congress, it was important not to backtrack from its demand of 63 seats, lest it send a wrong signal to another key ally, the Trinamool Congress, with which it is in the middle of seat-sharing talks in Bengal.
The first indication of the deal came after the DMK leaders met Sonia on Monday night. The key negotiators had to hold a series of meetings on Tuesday before they could seal the deal.
Initially, PMK chief S Ramadoss was not willing to give up any seat but agreed in the end, as did Muslim League leader and Union minister E Ahamed.