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TN: Greedy Congress upsets DMK, split imminent

Last updated on: March 05, 2011 02:15 IST
As a further indication of deteriorating ties between the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and the Congress ahead of the Tamil Nadu assembly election, Chief Minister M Karunanidhi issued a post-midnight statement slamming the Congress of being greedy.

Also Read: The nasty twist in the DMK-Congress tale 

"After starting from 51, and then going on to 53 and then again to 58, we finally agreed to give 60 seats to the Congress," Karunanidhi said in his statement.

"This was finalised and conveyed to Ghulam Nabi Azad. Instead of signing the agreement, the Congress on Friday called over the phone and demanded 63 seats -- that too constituencies of their choice. Is this fair? Only our party can decide the constituencies. We will now decide our final course of action in Saturday's meeting."

Karunanidhi explained the seat sharing formula thus in his statement: "In the 2006 assembly elections, the DMK contested in 132 seats, while the Congress featured in 48. The Pattali Makkal Katchi was given 31, the CPM 13, and the CPI 10. Since the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi and the Kongu Nadu Munnetra Kazhagam have come in to the alliance this time, and the Left parties are not there, we decided the 23 seats which belonged to the Left in 2006 could be shared by all, including the Congress. This was explained to the Congress during the seat-sharing talks." 

But, the Congress wanted more than what it would have got under this formula.

The statement comes hours after actor-politician Vijayakant and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief J Jayalalithaa finalised their seat-sharing agreement.

The AIADMK has given Vijayakant's Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam 41 seats. Speculation was rife in Chennai that the state's top three parties were wooing Vijayakant till the last minute.

From the Congress's side, Home Minister P Chidambaram's son Karthi was said to have conducted two secret meetings with Vijayakant over the course of the last seven days.

Karunanidhi's elder son and Union Chemical and Fertilizers Minister

M K Azhagiri also heaped praise on Vijayakant over the last two days. This was significant since all indications were that the Congress and DMK had not arrived at a final figure and the DMK too was keeping its options open.

The AIADMK was the first party to tilt towards the DMDK, which had more than 10 per cent vote share in the past couple of elections and has been seen as dividing the votes of the Dravidian parties.

Though the two parties were said to have even finalised the number of seats and even the constituencies, Vijayakant's party was seen to be the trump card in the run up to the assembly elections stated for April 13.

Now, with Vijayakant and Jayalaithaa finalising their agreement and making it public, the DMK has chosen this moment to hit out at the Congress in the open for the first time.

The DMK has already finalised 52 seats with its other allies, leaving 182 seats for itself and the Congress to share. With the Congress demanding 63, it would have left the DMK with 119.

Significantly, the DMK sources had in private told that 120 was the magic mark for their party. With the Congress pegging its desired number at three more than the DMK's final offer, this is seen as the final stand off between the two parties.

DMK sources said that if the party had any hopes of retaining power in the state with a dominant role, it would need to contest anywhere between 120 and 125 seats.

The DMK being very generous with allies like the Pattali Makkal Katchi and the Viduthalai Chiruthaikal Katchi was seen as a subtle tactic of arm-twisting against the Congress, which started negotiations with a supposed demand for 80 seats.

The biggest significance of Friday night's statement from Chief Minister Karunanidhi is that this is the first time in many months that the DMK has spoken openly about the alliance and negotiations in public.

Party sources see this as the final straw in the alliance's back.

Further developments are expected on Saturday following a high level meeting in the DMK, but there is no denying that the AIADMK led alliance has drawn first blood in the run up to the election, which is just 39 days away.

Krishnakumar Padmanabhan in Chennai