The DMK has allotted 25 seats to ally Congress for next month’s elections in Tamil Nadu. The national party has also been allotted the Kanyakumari Lok Sabha seat that would go for bypolls following the death of Congress MP Vasanthakumar.
“The DMK and the Congress have sealed seat-sharing deal. The Congress will contest in 25 assembly seats and the Kanyakumari Lok Sabha seat. However the DMK has not assured us a Rajya Sabha seat that we demanded. The DMK wants to contest at least in 180 seats,” Dinesh Gundu Rao, the Congress leader in-charge of Tamil Nadu, told NDTV.
The Congress share for the assembly election is a significant climbdown from the 41 seats it contested in the 2016 polls.
According to sources, the Tamil Nadu Congress had asked for at least 30 seats while the DMK said it would only spare 24, leading to a stalemate. The deal was finalised after the Congress leadership in Delhi got in touch with the DMK’s top leadership in Chennai on Saturday evening, they said.
“After discussion with our high command, we met DMK chief MK Stalin now to finalise the seat-sharing deal. The agreement will be signed tomorrow morning at 10 am,” Congress leader Dinesh Gundu Rao said, without spelling out the details of the agreement.
With little bargaining power in the state, Tamil Nadu Congress chief KS Alagiri had said this week the “ball is the DMK’s court” when it came to seat-sharing for the elections.
There have been multiple rounds of talks between the two sides on a seat-sharing pact while Congress chief Rahul Gandhi made several trips to the state to campaign for the polls.
In the 2016 assembly polls, the Congress was allotted 41 seats and it had won seven of them.
“The ball is in their (DMK’s) court. Hence, it is the DMK which has to decide (seat-sharing),” Mr Alagiri had said when asked about how many seats his party had requested.
Replying to a question, he denied the Congress had made a “climb-down” on the number of seats it sought from the DMK.
The DMK, hoping to return to power after being in opposition for 10 years, has allotted three seats to the Indian Union Muslim League and two to Manithaneya Makkal Katchi.
The party’s decision on the Congress comes a day after its rival AIADMK allotted 20 seats to the BJP.
The Tamil Nadu assembly election will be held in a single phase on April 6 and the counting of votes will be done on May 2.
Tamil Nadu will see a contest mostly between the ruling AIADMK and opposition DMK while many will also keep their eyes peeled for how actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan’s new party Makkal Needhi Maiam fares.
This is the first election after the death of two iconic leaders J Jayalalithaa of the AIADMK and M Karunanidhi of the DMK.