The Congress and DMK in Chennai hammered out a seat-sharing agreement for the Lok Sabha polls with the former to contest 16 of the 40 seats at stake in Tamil Nadu and neighbouring Puducherry Union Territory. This is six more than the 10 seats the DMK had allotted to the Congress in the 2004 Lok Sabha polls.
Announcing the details at a crowded press conference here tonight at the DMK headquarters, the Party President and Chief Minister, Mr. M. Karunanidhi said that the DMK would contest 21 seats as of now.
The DMK-Congress pact was signed by himself and the TNCC President, Mr. K. V. Thankkabaalu here tonight after some hectic last minute parleys involving the AICC(I) general secretary, Mr. Gulam Nabi Azad and the Union Home Minister, Mr. P.
Chidambaram among others.
Mr. Karunanidhi said the Congress quota would include the Puducherry seat, a demand made by the latter for a long time. The PMK quitting the alliance made it easier for the Congress to regain Puducherry, a traditional Congress bastion.
Two other smaller parties, the State unit of the IUML headed by Prof. K. M. Khader Mohideen has been allotted one seat, and the Dalit outfit, Viduthalai Chiruthaikal Katchi (VCK), headed by Thol. Thirumavalavan has been surprisingly given two seats.The DMK was yet to talk to another smaller Muslim outfit, said Mr.Karunanidhi to a query.
"We are totally satisfied and happy," said Mr. Azad about the seat-sharing pact taking a volley of questions from the media. The Congress has had a very cordial relationship with the DMK and this has been one of "the best alliances"
under the leadership of Mrs. Sonia Gandhi and the Prime Ministership of Dr. Manmohan Singh, Mr. Azad said.
Virtually ruling out any understanding with actor-turned-politician Vijayakant's DMDK at this stage as the latter had already announced candidates for 12 constituencies in Tamil Nadu, Mr. Azad did not share the view that the PMK
quitting had "weakened" the Congresss-DMK alliance in the State.
On the contrary, people would vote for the "tremendous performance" of the UPA both at the Centre and in the State, Mr. Azad said. He also emphasized the natural advantage they had over the AIADMK as it was not part of any National alliance. "It is not the AIADMK that is going to form the Government at the Centre and it is the UPA which will form the Government at the National level," Mr. Azad argued to counter the perception that Ms. Jayalalithaa had lined up a formidable opposition alliance now.