Putting to rest all speculations about the continuance of the Congress-DMK alliance in Tamil Nadu for the ensuing Lok Sabha polls, senior Congress leader, Mr Gulam Nabi Azad on Monday said the electoral understanding between the two parties "will continue" and seat-sharing talks will commence soon.
Barely an hour after the Lok Sabha poll dates was announced this evening, Mr. Azad, the AICC General Secretary in-charge of the State, after an hour's meeting with the DMK President and Chief Minister, Mr. M. Karunanidhi at his Gopalapuram residence here, promptly seized the moment to quell uncertainty on the alliance issue since the AIADMK leader, Ms.Jayalalithaa had urged the Congress "to dump the DMK".
Mr. Azad, who earlier for most part of the day had interactions with Congressmen including senior leaders like P. Chidambaram, Mrs. Jayanthi Natarajan, TNCC President, Mr. K. V. Thankkabalu and others, categorically said that the DMK has been a "very strong ally" of the UPA, while the Congress-DMK alliance in the State has been "one of the most successful alliance" since 2004.
"There has been total coordination and understanding (between Congress and DMK) and it shall continue in the future," he said, adding, the relationship between the UPA and the DMK leaders was in tact. Hence, "there is no need for speculation," Mr. Azad made clear.
Stating that the seat-sharing talks between the two parties will commence soon with the appointment of a committee by the Pradesh Congress, Mr. Azad was welcome to new allies including the actor-politician Vijayakant's DMDK joining their front. "All like-minded parties are welcome to be part of the Congress-DMK alliance," Mr. Azad quipped.
Mr. Azad also dispelled misimpressions about Mr. Karunanidhi's health condition after the latter's spinal surgery recently. On seeing the DMK Chief, the Congress leader said he was very happy to see that the operation has been "very successful". "He (DMK Chief) is hale and healthy; his recovery is full," Mr. Azad said, adding, in another two weeks he should be back to normal work.
Though sections of the Congressmen in their earlier interaction with Mr. Azad at their headquarters 'Satyamurthy Bhavan', expressed apprehensions about including pro-LTTE parties like the PMK and the Dalit outfit, 'Viduthalai Chiruthaikal Katchi (VCK)' in their alliance, as it could "damage" Congress prospects in the polls, efforts are on to bring back these two alienated parties to the DMK-led fold sans their pro-Tigers rhetoric.
With the CPI, CPI(M) and MDMK which were part of the DMK-Congress alliance in the 2004 Lok Sabha polls, already out of it, former Union Minister of the DMK, Mr. Dayanidhi Maran indicated that it would be possible for the DMK to "accommodate" the Congress' aspirations for being allotted more seats this time. In the 2004 polls, Congress was given 10 seats and the DMK had contested 15 seats of the total 39 seats in Tamil Nadu. "We have spare seats, and we will sit and negotiate the best seat-sharing arrangement for both of us," Mr. Maran said.