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Strains in Congress-DMK alliance in Puducherry

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Puducherry, Jan 19: Cracks appeared to have developed in the decade-old alliance between the ruling Congress and DMK in the union territory just months ahead of the assembly elections, with a senior leader of the Dravidian party pitching for contesting all 30 seats.

MK Stalin

Party sources said DMK, which has been of late distancing itself from the Congress, felt the V Narayanasamy government had ditched the party on several occasions and matters, including appointment of chairpersons to various statutory bodies, and occasions though it had been supporting it from outside since 2016.

Amid the visible strains, senior leader and MP S Jagathratchagan, deputed by the party leadership, on Monday told a party executive committee meeting here that DMK should win in all 30 constituencies in the next polls, likely in April-May, seen as an indication that it should go it alone.

ABP-CVoter Opinion Poll: Congress-DMK, NDA in close contest in Puducherry ABP-CVoter Opinion Poll: Congress-DMK, NDA in close contest in Puducherry

At the meeting, local DMK leaders, including MLA R Siva and former minister S P Sivakumar, projected Jagathratchagan, who represents Arakonam in neighbouring Tamil Nadu, as the Chief Ministerial candidate of the party.

'The DMK should romp home in all the 30 assembly constituencies in the Union Territory in the next polls,' the MP said, adding the party needed to emerge a big winner so that it could strive hard to ensure that Puducherry made a rapid stride in every field.

While welcoming Jagathratchagan on his arrival at the venue of the meeting, the DMK workers raised slogans hailing him as the Chief Ministerial candidate of the party.

DMK had won two seats out of the ten it contested under the Congress-led alliance in the 2016 assembly elections. Its tally rose to three after the victory in the byelection to Thattanchavady held in 2019.

Indications of strains in the ties had been there since the past few months with the DMK keeping away from various agitations staged by the Congress.

The DMK had held a separate protest last month over the central farm laws issue when the Congress gave a call for the stir and its three MLAs were absent when the assembly passed a resolution seeking repeal of the contentious acts on Monday.

Despite being part of the democratic secular progressive alliance, the DMK did not take part in the agitation by the combine earlier this month demanding the recall of Lt Governor Kiran Bedi for allegedly impeding implementation of welfare schemes.

It was the general wish of the rank and file that DMK party should contest in all the 30 seats in the coming assembly poll on its own, a party source told PTI on Tuesday.

The developments come at a time when the strength of the Congress in the assembly has come down to 14 after the disqualification of rebel MLA N Dhanavelu on charges of anti- party activities and the party banks on the support of the three DMK MLAs.

In fact, opposition parties, including AIADMK, on Monday demanded that Narayanasamy prove his majority in the assembly, pointing to the cold ties between Congress and DMK.

However, a DMK source here said the party did not want to pull down the Congress government.

'We do not want to topple the government. But the hidden agenda with which the Congress government is functioning is a disturbing environment for the DMK.

'We will, however, carry out whatever directives our high command and party leader M K Stalin give us in the context of the coming assembly polls,' the source added.

Interestingly, even on the never ending tussle between the ruling dispensation and Bedi over administrative issues, the DMK was of the view that the former had taken wrong decisions on some matters and it could reflect on the party when it approaches voters seeking support for the alliance.

A senior Congress leader, however, rejected the charge that the DMK had been sidelined.

'The government is implementing several schemes maintaining balance. There is no truth in the criticism by the DMK against the government. Despite several hurdles the Lt Governor had been putting in implementation of the schemes the government is catering for the wellbeing of people in all segments without discrimination,' the leader said.

He also said the question of continuation of the alliance between the Congress and DMK was a matter lying within the domain of the leaderships of the two parties and 'local units of the parties have no say.'

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