DMK, Congress finalise constituencies

Manmohan Singh with M Karunanidhi
Chennai, Mar 15: After days of haggling, ruling DMK and its key ally Congress today finalised on the 63 constituencies to be contested by the national party for the Apr 13 assembly elections, amid indications by the Congress about possible power-sharing in case the combine won.

"The aspirations of Congress men and women will be met," TNCC president KV Thangkabalu said when asked if the two parties had worked out a strategy on power-sharing in the event of the DMK-led alliance winning the elections.

The Congress, propping up the outgoing DMK government with the crucial support of its 34 mlas, has been pressuring the Dravidian party to share power with it.

The demand for cabinet berths from leaders like former TNCC president EVKS Elangovan had in the past been cold-shouldered by the DMK, which has six ministers in the UPA-II cabinet.

Speaking to reporters at TNCC headquarters, Satyamurthy Bhavan, after signing the agreement with DMK president and Chief Minister M Karunanidhi, Thangkabalu said the party was contesting in all districts except Dharmapuri and Theni.

Interestingly, the DMK allotted five seats from its bastion, Chennai, to Congress.

Top DMK leaders, including Karunanidhi and his son MK Stalin and some cabinet colleagues including Finance Minister K Anbazhagan, represent different constituencies in Chennai.

Anna Nagar, presently represented by Electricity Minister Arcot N Veeraswamy, and nearby Alandur (Kanchipuram district) by Labour Minister TM Anbarasan are two important seats allotted to Congress by DMK. Besides, Thiru.Vi. Ka Nagar, Thygaraya Nagar, Mylapore and Royapuram have also been allotted.

Thangkabalu, who was also a member of the Congress election panel that held discussions with its DMK counterpart on seat-sharing, said the 63 seats, 15 more than alloted to it in 2006, consists of constituencies of sitting MLAs.

Thangkabalu highlighted the increased number of seat allocations to Congress both in two Lok Sabha polls as well as Assembly elections. The two parties had first joined hands for the 2004 Lok Sabha polls.

Asked if the 2G spectrum scam in connection with which DMK leader and former Telecom Minister A Raja has been lodged in prison, would affect Congress prospects in Chennai, he said all the 234 seats in the state were "winnable".

"We will work to ensure the victory of alliance party members also," he said.

Among others, the DMK has also allotted Radhapuram (Tirunelveli dt.) to Congress, which is presently represented by DMK's M Appavu.

Thangkabalu said applications from MLA aspirants will be received tomorrow and a day after, they will be sent to the party high command to take a final call.

Now, all eyes are on the DMK which is scheduled to release its candidates list tomorrow.

Today''s agreement comes after week-long intense negotiations following the seat-sharing deal signed between Congress and DMK, which unlike in the past was made to yield due to the tough stand taken by the national party.

Under the pact, DMK will contest 121 seats, PMK 30, Viduthlalai Chiruthaigal Katchi 10, Kongu Nadu Munnetra Kazhagam seven, IUML two and Moovender Munetra Kazhagam one, the last two seeking election on the DMK symbol.


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