Cadres of the AIADMK and PMK instantly burst into joyous celebration before the ‘Puratchi Thalaivi’, Ms. Jayalalithaa’s Poes garden residence in Chennai on Saturday as both parties finalized a seat-sharing agreement for the May 13 Lok Sabha polls in Tamil Nadu with the PMK getting its best poll deal so far.
Of the 40 seats at stake including one in the neighbouring Union territory of Puducherry, the PMK this time as part of the AIADMK-led alliance, gets to contest 7 Lok Sabha seats, the maximum it has got from a major ally since 1998 polls, besides one Rajya Sabha seat in 2010. The PMK has 6 seats in the out-going Lok Sabha.
The allocation of one RS seat would help Dr. Anbumani Ramadoss, one of the youngest Ministers in the Union Cabinet so far and the PMK’s best known face in Delhi steering the Health Ministry under the UPA regime till his resignation, get re-elected to the Upper House when his present term ends next year.
A beaming AIADMK leader, Ms. Jayalalithaa and the PMK’s founder-leader, Dr. S. Ramadoss, emerging from a 45-minute meeting at the former’s house – this is their first meeting after eight years and came two days after the PMK’s Special General Council overwhelmingly decided to join the AIADMK-led alliance-, said she was happy to announce the agreement reached today between the two parties.
Sounding upbeat on the prospects of the AIADMK-led alliance after the PMK’s entry Ms. Jayalalithaa, in a brief media interaction, referred to the “considered opinion of political analysts across the country that this is an unbeatable electoral combination” in Tamil Nadu. “I will rest here for now,” she said, adding, the poll results will prove everything.
Even as AIADMK and PMK cadres went about bursting crackers and distributing ‘laddus’ to people outside ‘Amma’s house, The PMK President, Mr. G. K.Mani, held talks on constituencies identification with the AIADMK team led by the party’s Deputy leader in the Assembly, Mr. O. Pannerselvam, constituted for the purpose.
The seven seats allocated to the PMK in the State, as announced later by the AIADMK headquarters, include the historic seat of Sriperumbudur, Tirunvannamalai, Kallakuruchi, Arakkonam, Chidambaram (reserved), Dharmapuri and Puducherry UT seat. Barring the first three, two of which are newly carved out constituencies after the delimitation, the PMK had contested the others in 2004 Lok Sabha polls also and won.
Talks were already going on with the other alliance partners including the MDMK, CPI and CPI(M) and the number of seats being allocated to them will be finalized in a couple of days, Ms. Jayalalithaa said. The expectations are that after apportioning the seats to all her other allies, the AIADMK would contest at least 22 seats on its own.
"He (Dr. Ramadoss) has said that he is very much part of the AIADMK-led front,” shot back Ms. Jayalalithaa on the PMK leader’s nuances over not specifically being part of the ‘third front’. Dr. Ramadoss, referring to the AIADMK leader as ‘Anbu Sagodhari (beloved sister), said their alliance will sweep the polls “winning all the 40 LS seats”.
CONG PLAYS DOWN DIFFERENCES WITH PMK
Meanwhile, the Tamil Nadu Congress Committee (TNCC), significantly, played down differences with the PMK saying Dr.Ramadoss was free to take any decision on the alliance issue. In his first reactions after the PMK joined the AIADMK-led front, the TNCC President, Mr. K.V. Thankkabalu did not consider the PMK’S exit from the DMK-led front in the State as being very consequential for the fortunes of their alliance.
Speaking to reporters after a meeting of senior Congress leaders including the Home Minister, Mr. P. Chidambaram at the ‘Satyamurthy Bhavan’ here, the PCC Chief said that in any Lok Sabha poll in Tamil Nadu, “only those who are with the Congress benefit; those who do not join us (alluding to the likes of PMK) do not benefit”. The DMK-Congress front was itself a “powerful alliance” and will win all 40 seats, he said.
Declining to go into why Congress efforts to retain PMK within the DMK-led alliance had failed, Mr. Thankkabalu said that the AICC General Secretary in-charge of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, Mr. Gulam Nabi Azad will be in Chennai later this evening and would finalize the seat-sharing pact with the DMK by tonight. “We have no problems with the DMK,” he said implying the row over including the controversial pro-LTTE Dalit outfit, Viduthalai Chiruthaikal Katchi (VCK)’, in their alliance had tactically ended for now.