‘DMDK does not have upper hand in negotiations’

Party may have to settle for fewer seats than PMK, say sources

Once a sought after party during elections, the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK) founded by actor Vijayakant may have to settle for fewer seats than the PMK in the AIADMK-led alliance this Assembly election.

Though party treasurer Premalatha Vijayakant has been posturing that the DMDK is prepared to contest alone in all 234 seats, the ground reality is different — sources in the DMDK and AIADMK, who are in the know of seat-sharing discussions, suggest that while the DMDK will remain in the alliance, it may have “to settle for a respectable number of seats” but not expect to be treated on a par with the PMK as its best days are in the past. Even before the Lok Sabha election, the DMDK had insisted that it must be allotted the same number of seats as the PMK, but had settled for four seats as opposed to the latter’s seven. The party’s office-bearers reiterated the same sentiment recently during a consultative meeting.

Pointing to how Ministers had made a beeline to PMK founder S. Ramadoss’ residence to discuss his demands, DMDK sources said it was clear that the AIADMK considered PMK a more valuable partner.

A few days ago, Ms. Premalatha urged the Dravidian majors to “start negotiations on seat sharing” and added that it would face the election alone if it was not treated with respect by the AIADMK.

A senior member of the party, who polled 10% of the total votes in his constituency in the 2016 Assembly election, said the party had lost its sheen and would have to depend on its alliance partner, the AIADMK, to win a seat now.

“The party does not have the strength to win seats on its own. We need an alliance. We are not what we were in 2011, 2014 and 2016. The party will have to settle for what is being offered and work towards winning the seats,” he said.

He opined that the party could only survive if it won a few seats in the election. “We have to choose winnable constituencies and candidates properly. Otherwise the party’s survival post the election will be difficult,” he said.

Another senior member of the party, who is deemed close to the leadership, said there was “very little possibility” of the party contesting alone or joining the third front, presumably headed by Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM).

“I don’t think it will happen. Let us wait for a few days. We will call for a general body meeting and announce the electoral alliance,” he said.

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