Tamil Nadu chief minister M Karunanidhi announced on his arrival on Sunday that the Pattali Maakal Katchi (PMK) would be part of the DMK-led alliance in the state. His announcement, ahead of his talks with Congress chief Sonia Gandhi on Monday afternoon to finalise a seat-sharing arrangement, was to convey to the Congress that he did not have many seats to spare because of his other allies.
This is the first time the DMK chief has officially announced that the PMK is part of the alliance. His statement was seen as a bid to stem pressure from the Congress to part with a good number of seats for the assembly polls. The PMK, which has 5 % vote share, had walked out of the DMK-led alliance before the Lok Sabha polls to join Jayalalitha-led AIADMK but was routed.
Though dampened by the 2G spectrum controversy, the DMK chief does not want to spare more than 60 seats to the Congress, as against 48 seats contested by that party in 2006 polls. The Congress won 35 of those seats.This time, buoyed Congress leaders from Tamil Nadu are pitching for not contesting less than 75 seats because of the image of the DMK in Tamil Nadu today. Arguing that the Congress had consistently shown a vote share of above 15 %, they hold that they must expand their base for having propped up the DMK ministry with "outside support" all these five years.
Karunanidhi, who is bracing up for a hard bargain during his discussions with Gandhi and other Congress leaders, told reporters that, "the PMK, Muslim League and the VCK will be in the alliance, apart from the Congress and DMK. I will discuss the number of seats to be contested (by these two parties) when I meet Sonia Gandhi and the Prime Minister."
Asked if the seat sharing talks would be completed during his stay in the capital, he said, "I cannot say that."
On his part, Karunanidhi is also looking forward to a presidential notification and an early announcement from the Election Commission about the revival of the Upper House in Tamil Nadu after a gap of 24 years.
The DMK chief wants the outgoing state assembly, whose term ends in May, to elect new council members before the elections are held. That will ensure that enough number of DMK men and women make it to the Upper House.
But the Election Commission appears to be divided on this issue, with chief election commissioner S Y Querishi favouring that the new House should elect the council member, DMK sources said.
As early as May last year, President Pratibha Patil had given assent to Parliament legislation for revival of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Council. The UPA government had fast tracked Karunanidhi's plea for early action on bringing back the Upper House. The state Assembly had passed a resolution in April last year, seeking the revival of the Council, which was abolished during the MGR regime in 1986.