Focus now on identifying constituencies between Cong-DMK

Tamil Nadu map
Chennai, Mar 9: With the drama on seat sharing between Congress and DMK over, the focus has now shifted to another thorny issue of identifying constituencies the two parties will contest for the Apr 13 Assembly elections.

After prolonged suspense and tension filled days that saw the scene of action frequently shift between Chennai and Delhi, the two parties finally saved their seven-year-old ties by clinching a seat sharing deal last night.

The poll pact, under which DMK allotted 63 seats to Congress after much reluctance, brought much relief to both camps, with DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi calling it a ''happy day.''

But the problem is far from over as the two parties now move to next stage of negotiations to identify constituencies.

Maintaining its hard position as it did on seat sharing talks, DMK has said it is prepared to let Congress retain the 48 constituencies it contested in 2006 polls but has made it clear that negotiations will decide the other 15. The talks in this regard are scheduled for tomorrow.

Congress has managed to secure from DMK 15 seats more than what it contested in the last polls, but at the cost of PMK and IUML and the Dravidian party itself, who had to forego one seat each.

Karunanidhi, who had in the midst of seat-sharing talks described the Congress demand for 63 seats as ''unjustified,'' also had some words of advice for his national ally when he asked it to ''welcome this with the same bhakti like the 63 Nayanmars'' (the Tamil Saivite saints).

The DMK, haunted by the 2G spectrum allocation scam in which its leader and former Telecom Minister A Raja is now in jail, will also have to grapple with the demand for power sharing from Congress.

Congress reportedly made a strong pitch for share in power as a pre-poll agreement, much to the discomfiture of the Dravidian party, as it did not wish to entertain the concept.

But, it was not the first time that the power-sharing issue has erupted as Congress leader and former Union Minister, EVK S Elangovan had repeatedly raised it, only to be snubbed by DMK patriarch Karunanidhi.

Congress lost power in 1967 yielding to DMK and since then the national party has been riding piggyback on one of the two Dravidian parties, with cabinet berths remaining elusive.


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