Edappadi K Palaniswami and MK Stalin
Edappadi K Palaniswami and MK Stalin

Chennai: The ruling AIADMK and DMK have not been able to make much progress in sealing seat-sharing pacts with their respective allies for the Tamil Nadu Assembly elections. With filing of nominations to begin on March 12, so far the AIADMK has firmed up its alliance only with the PMK giving it 23 seats, the DMK has managed an agreement with the IUML (3 seats) and another Muslim outfit Manithaneya Makkal Katchi (2).

In the AIADMK camp, a deal with the BJP is dragging both on the seat count as well as the national party’s keenness to rope in the Sasikala faction in the alliance. After Union Home Minister Amit Shah held marathon talks with the AIADMK leaders – Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam – there was an expectation that the process would speed up.

“Our leader Palaniswami is not keen on having any agreement with Sasikala or her nephew TTV Dhinakaran’s AMMK. It will create confusion. We have conveyed it to the BJP that whatever votes we will lose on account of Sasikala’s exclusion can be made up by the good initiatives Palaniswami had taken in the last two years,” said a leader.

BJP leader C T Ravi, who is in-charge of Tamil Nadu, on Thursday said it was for the AIADMK to take a decision on Sasikala as they knew her strengths and weaknesses.

The BJP’s central election committee is expected to meet in New Delhi to decide on distributing party tickets. “Hopefully everything should be finalised in a day or two,” hinted a BJP leader.

The AIADMK has also not been able to fulfil the demands for higher seats from actor Vijayakant’s DMDK and sharp utterances by the actor’s brother-in-law that the AIADMK is “pleading” for an alliance, is likely to strain their relations further.

As for the DMK, its hardball negotiations have upset its allies including the Congress, Left parties, MDMK and VCK.

“Our national leadership is shocked at the DMK’s paltry offer of 18 seats. Rahul Gandhi is clear that we should get a dignified treatment,” said a Congress leader off the record. The Congress expects at least 35 seats. “We were given 41 seats in the DMK alliance in 2016,” he pointed out.

However, a second line DMK leader countered, “How many did the Congress win? Just eight of 41 seats. Their strike rate is poor. We cannot take chances.”

The DMK’s formula to allies is to offer it two Assembly seats per Parliamentary seat won by them in 2019. This means the MDMK, VCK and two Left parties will get only four Assembly seats each. Besides, the DMK is insisting that some of these parties must contest on its ‘Rising Sun’ symbol.

“We don’t want this alliance to break as we see the BJP as a greater threat. But the DMK must be considerate and increase its offer failing which we are not sure which way would go,” said a VCK leader.

Sources indicate that the DMK may explore increasing its offer to three Assembly seats per Parliamentary seat won.

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Free Press Journal