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Battlelines drawn in TN for Assembly polls

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Chennai, Mar 24: With the AIADMK-led Democratic People's Alliance (DPA) and DMK-led Democratic Progressive Alliance (DPA) releasing their list of constituencies, the battlelines have been drawn for a fierce multi-cornered contest in the May 8 assembly elections in Tamil Nadu.

A day after the DMK completed the week-long exercise of identifying constituencies and released its list, the AIADMK followed suit today, setting the stage for the fierce electoral battle.

The DMK, heading a formidable six-party alliance, including Congress, Pattali Makkal Katchi, CPI(M), CPI and Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), is contesting 129 seats, the lowest number after the 1980 elections.

The AIADMK, on the otherhand, is contesting a record 182 seats, leaving 35 to the Marumalarchi DMK, nine to the Dalit Panthers of India and the rest to other smaller parties.

With the major parties arrayed in two rival fronts, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), actor Vijayakanth's nascent Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK), actor Karthik, heading the All India Forward Bloc in the state and Puthiya Tamizhagam are ploughing a lonely furrow.

In this backdrop, the stage is set for a multicornered contest in a number of constituencies, though the main fight would be between between the DMK and AIADMK fronts.

All the parties, which had decided to go it alone are yet to release their list of constituencies. While the BJP declared it would contest from all 234 constituencies in the state, Karthik said the party would contest 108 seats on its own.

Vijayakanth, who is already on a whirlwind election tour, is yet to come out with the number of seats his party will contest in its maiden venture at the hustings. It is widely speculated that he might join the AIADMK camp, but Ms Jayalaithaa, by releasing the list of seats allotted to the allies, has scotched the rumours. Having completed the first phase of the pre-poll exercise - seat sharing - the major fronts are all set to enter the crucial phase of the electoral exercise - the candidates' list and campaigning. Both AIADMK and DMK fronts are expected to give names in a couple of days.

Meanwhile, Miss Jayalalitha today announced a 33-day long campaign schedule beginning from March 31, while DMK Chief M Karunanidhi is to launch his electioneering from the second week of April.

For the AIADMK camp, Ms Jayalalithaa and MDMK General Secretary Vaiko will be the stars while the DMK-led DPA has the advantage of lining up national leaders and Union Ministers from the state, P Chidambaram, E V K S Elangovan, T R Baalu, Dayanidhi Maran and Anbumani Ramadoss Besides Mr Karunanidhi, TNCC President M Krishnasamy, PMK founder leader Dr S Ramadoss, left party leaders N Varadarajan and D Pandian, would also chip in in the state-wide campaign.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi would be the star attraction among the national leaders. The BJP is likely to rope in party leader L K Advani and the left parties, Prakash Karat and D Raja.

UNI

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