Tamil Nadu chief minister M Karunanidhi's 45-minute meeting with Congress chief Sonia Gandhi on Monday refreshed their parties' seven-year-old alliance and resolve to jointly contest the state assembly polls due in May.
Karunanidhi's interaction with Gandhi put to rest uncertainty regarding the alliance since the exit of disgraced former telecom minister A Raja over the 2G spectrum scam.
It was the DMK chief's first meeting with Gandhi since Raja quit in November following a damning CAG report on the allocation of air waves.
"I met Sonia Gandhi for 45 minutes. As a result, the DMK-Congress coalition is continuing," he told reporters.
The Congress and DMK had entered into an alliance in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections. Later, they fought the 2006 Assembly elections and the 2009 general elections together.
Ironically, Karunanidhi's talks with the Congress chief came on a day the CBI grilled Raja for the third time and the Justice Shivraj Patil panel indicted him for showing favours to some telecom companies in granting 2G spectrum between October 2007 and 2008.
Before seeing Gandhi, the CM called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh whose January 3 remark about the alliance had set the ball rolling.
Clearly showing the Raja episode was behind them, Karunanidhi and Gandhi agreed on setting up a joint panel, which would work out the "modalities" of the seat sharing arrangement.
Karunanidhi was assisted in the talks by DMK parliamentary party leader TR Baalu, textiles minister Dayanidhi Maran and Rajya Sabh MP and daughter Kanimozhi.
Sources said the Congress has pitched for not less than 75 of the 234 assembly seats. The DMK, however, wants to restrict the number to 60 to 65 seats.
With the DMK seeking to restrict the number of seats
to be contested by allies, both sides are likely to be engaged in hard bargain. A formal announcement about the panel for this purpose would be made in a day or two.
On his arrival here on Sunday, Karunanidhi had announced that the PMK would be part of the alliance in the state.