DMK’s tough stance over seat-sharing in Tamil Nadu for Lok Sabha elections sparks unease in Congress

The tough stand taken by the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) at its meeting on Wednesday over the seat-sharing strategy in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections has triggered unease in the Congress in Tamil Nadu.

In the meeting, DMK leaders said the party should not cede too much political space to the Congress and other allies, and try to win a majority of the 39 Lok Sabha seats in Tamil Nadu to emerge as a key player at the national level following the 2019 general election.

The DMK is hoping to cash in on the “anti-incumbency factor” against the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), which is also witnessing a tussle of leadership after the death of former chief minister J Jayalalithaa.

The DMK is also expected to “exploit the perceived closeness” between the ruling AIADMK and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). A Congress functionary familiar with the developments said the DMK could play hardball and leave less than 10 seats for the grand old party.

To keep a check on the DMK, a section in the Tamil Nadu Congress wants to keep channels of communication open with other parties in the southern state.

The assessment within the state Congress is that there is a possibility of Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK) leader and late chief minister J.J ayalalithaa’s nephew TTV Dinakaran striking an alliance with Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK), headed by actor-turned-politician Vijayakanth, and the Paattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), founded by S Ramadoss.

“If that happens, it will be a formidable alliance and give a tough fight to the DMK in both the Lok Sabha and the assembly elections,” a Tamil Nadu Congress leader said on condition of anonymity. “We need to keep the lines of communications open with all these parties. We have conveyed this to the central leadership,” he added.

For his part, Dinakaran had recently stated that his party will consider a tie-up with the Congress if it parts way with the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam. However, he ruled out any alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) president and actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan too made a similar statement, insisting that he was ready for an alliance with the Congress if the grand old party snaps its ties with the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam.

The PMK has also shown its willingness to join hands with the Congress. Still, the Congress is unlikely to abandon the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam given the good rapport between Rahul Gandhi and MK Stalin.

“There is no question of snapping ties with the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam,” said Tamil Nadu Congress chief S Thirunavukkarasar.

“Our alliance is intact and going strong and part of the secular alliance fighting against the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam rule in Tamil Nadu and the BJP government at the Centre,” he said.

He said it is too early to discuss a seat-sharing arrangement for the Lok Sabha elections and maintained that the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam has not officially communicated anything to the Congress on the issue.“We will discuss that at an appropriate time,” Thirunavukkarasar said.

“As far as other parties expressing willingness to join hands with us is concerned, that shows the popularity of the Congress and our leader Rahul Gandhi,” the Tamil Nadu Congress chief said.

First Published: Oct 20, 2018 07:16 IST

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