The Congress and DMK announced on Saturday an alliance to fight the assembly elections in Tamil Nadu, reviving a partnership three years after they parted ways on a bitter note.
“DMK and Congress will fight (the) Tamil Nadu assembly elections in alliance,” senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said in Chennai after meeting the state party’s patriarch M Karunanidhi at his residence.
The 92-year-old patriarch of the state party, who was present during Azad’s press briefing, later tweeted a photograph of the meeting.
Elections to the 234-seat Tamil Nadu assembly are slated to be held this year. The DMK had invited the Congress for the talks in an effort to cobble up an alliance to take on the ruling AIADMK led by chief minister Jayalalithaa.
“We are very sure of forming the next government under the leadership of Karunanidhi, along with other parties,” the senior Congress leader said.
Alliance with Congress is finalised, we haven't spoken about seats: MK Stalin, DMK on Tamil Nadu assembly polls pic.twitter.com/jSeV4T7PkN— ANI (@ANI_news) February 13, 2016
Sources said the talks were held in a very cordial atmosphere, in stark contrast to the mood that prevailed in the DMK before it pulled out of the UPA alliance in 2013 to protest the then Manmohan Singh government’s stand on the Sri Lanka human rights issue at the United Nations.
Azad was received by MK Stalin, Karunanidhi’s heir apparent, at the Gopalapuram residence, where his half sister and Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi was also present during the talks that lasted about an hour.
Asked as to how many seats the Congress would contest, Azad said that these were matter of detail and would be decided later.
Stalin said the Congress “left it to our party to decide which other partners to be taken as allies.”
Sources indicated that the Congress will attempt to drive a hard bargain as a beleaguered DMK is already bearing the brunt of an ongoing feud between Karunanidhi’s sons MK Alagiri and MK Stalin.
The southern party’s popularity has been on the decline after its drubbing in the 2011 assembly polls followed by the complete rout in the 2014 parliamentary elections.
The AIADMK had swept both the polls. It bagged 150 of the 234 seats in the 2011 assembly polls with a vote share of 30.4%, which increased to 44.3% in 2014 general elections in which the party won 37 out of the 39 Lok Sabha seats.
On the other hand, the DMK won 23 seats in 2011 and its vote share stood at 22.39% which increased to 23.4% in 2014 but suffered a major jolt as it drew a blank. The Congress vote share of 9.3% in 2011 gave it five seats but the party failed to win a seat in 2014 as it secured 4.3% of votes.
The DMK was a part of the ruling UPA for almost nine years before pulling out of it in March 2013.
The Congress has been out of power in Tamil Nadu for nearly five decades.
Congress leaders hope that the alliance will reap rich electoral dividends as had happened in 2004, 2006 and 2009 polls. The DMK-Congress combine won all the 39 Lok Sabha seats in 2004 parliamentary elections, and also formed the government in the state in 2006. The alliance performed reasonably well in 2009 general elections in which it won 28 seats.