Battle lines clearly drawn for TN assembly polls

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Chennai, Mar 9: Battle lines have been clearly drawn for the Apr 13 assembly polls in Tamil Nadu with DMK and Congress clinching a seat sharing deal after a fortnight of hard bargaining.

The ruling DMK, in alliance with Congress, PMK, Viduthlalai Chirthaigal, Kongu Nadu Munnetra Kazhagam, IUML and Moovendar Munetra Kazhagam would take on the rainbow alliance led by opposition AIADMK, with actor politician Vijaykant''s DMDK, MDMK and Left parties as also some minor parties.

Though DMK clinched the deal with Congress after a logjam over seat allocation and identification, cadres of both parties are yet to forget the mental agony they underwent all these days. According to political analysts the high commands will find it a tough task to prevail on them to go for election campaign straightaway.

Maligned by the 2G spectrum scam, which AIADMK has already made an election issue, DMK is finding it tough to sail through the polls, despite doling out many freebie schemes to people, especially popular among rural folk.

The Congress, for the first time in recent memory, did not bow to its regional ally and stood firm on its demand of 63 seats and got it. The Congress thinking was that in the post poll scenario, their role would be crucial if neither DMK nor AIADMK along with their allies gets an absolute majority.

Though AIADMK finalised alliance partners much before DMK, it was unable to get into the nitty gritty of seat sharing. It allotted 41 seats to DMK, two to Puthia Tamizhagam, and one each to Moovendar Munnetra Kazhagam, Akila India Naadalum Makkal Katchi of actor Karthik, and RPI, but is yet to strike a deal with CPI-M, CPI and MDMK, which are reportedly seeking more seats.

A clear picture may emerge either this evening or tomorrow when AIADMK is likely to reach a final accord with the parties.

The DMK, on its part, has started the process of selection of candidates, but has to wait till it completes the exercise of identification of constituencies with allies. It does not expect any problem on that account, apart from Congress, the analysts feel.

The present thinking is to allow the parties to contest the seats already held by them and go for negotiations on others. But Congress appears to have demanded that it be given its choice and is not expected to give tickets to present MLAs in a bid to field new faces.

Selection of candidates is going to be a major problem for the faction-ridden Congress, though the group headed by Union shipping minister G K Vasan is the dominant player. It has to satisfy leaders like union home minister P Chidambaram, former unions ministers E V K S Elangovan and R Prabhu, both defeated in the Lok Sabha polls.

The party is yet to begin preliminary work of getting applications from aspirants, while its major opposition at the national level, the BJP, has said it would be sending its list to its central election committee by tomorrow.

BJP had announced it would go it alone, projecting itself as an alternative to the two major Dravidian parties DMK and AIADMK.

PTI

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