Tamil Nadu Polls: Congress to fight 41 seats

RSTV Bureau
Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Mukul Wasnik meeting with DMK Chief M Karunanidhi at his residence in Chennai on Saturday. MK Stalin and Kanimozhi are also seen. Photo-PTI

Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Mukul Wasnik meeting with DMK Chief M Karunanidhi at his residence in Chennai on Saturday. MK Stalin and Kanimozhi are also seen.
Photo-PTI

Ending intense negotiations spread over weeks, DMK on Monday allotted its key ally Congress 41 seats for the May 16 Assembly polls. The decision was take after Congress senior Leader Ghulam Nabi Azad met DMK leaders in Chennai for the second round of deliberations on seat sharing.

The bilateral discussions to identify the constituencies each of them would contest will begin later today in Chennai in the presence of DMK chief Karunandhi and treasurer Stallin.

“We have signed (an agreement) that allots 41 seats to Congress,” senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad told reporters here after inking the deal with DMK chief M Karunanidhi.

Jointly addressing reporters here along with his colleague Mukul Wasnkik, TNCC chief EVKS Elangoan and DMK leaders led by party treasurer M K Stalin, Azad said they would work to emerge victorious.

The agreement comes against the background of intense bilateral discussions between the DMK and Congress after Tamil Nadu Congress Committee held a meetings with its central leadership. Recently, Elangovan held talks with party Vice President Rahul Gandhi as well over the issue.

The DMK’s failure to woo Captain Vijayakanth’s DMDK has given congress a chance for extra bargain. Congress has been demanding 63 seats to contest for the 234 member Tamil Nadu Assembly, the same number of seats it contested in 2011 Assembly Polls.

DMK chief M Karunanidhi and his son and party treasurer MK Stalin. Photo-PTI

DMK chief M Karunanidhi and his son and party treasurer MK Stalin.
Photo-PTI

Azad said the rest of the seats would be shared among the DMK and other allies. “Of course, the major share, the number (of seats) will go to DMK but there are other allies also and DMK has already tied up with other political parties,” he added.  However the state unit of Congress has been pushing for at least 45 seats and in a worst case scenario were ready to climb down a few seats.

“This time it is the turn of the DMK-led government and I am sure under the leadership of Karunidhiji, the party will be able to form the government in Tamil Nadu,” Azad  said.

Stalin referred to discussions held earlier and said, “it has been decided today that Congress will contest 41 seats as part of the DMK front and an agreement has been signed.”

He said they are confident of “driving out” AIADMK from the seat of power. “We are confident we will achieve it,” he said. Talks will commence this evening to identify the constituencies that would be fought by Congress and DMK, he said.

Karunanidhi and Ghulam Nabi Azad signed the pact in the presence of top leaders of both parties including Wasnik, former ministers of DMK Duraimurugan, E V Velu and party MP Kanimozhi.

With the present allotment to Congress, DMK has so far allotted 54 seats to its allies after it allotted seats to Muslim parties like the IUML and MMK.

(With PTI inputs)