Congress, DMK finalize seat-sharing deal

Congress, DMK finalize seat-sharing deal

The Congress and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) on Tuesday finalized a seat-sharing deal for the upcoming assembly elections in Tamil Nadu, days after their alliance appeared to have broken down.

The Congress will contest 63 of the 234 seats in the assembly in the 13 April polls, or 15 more than it did in the 2006 elections.

The agreement was clinched in meetings on Tuesday between the DMK’s Dayanidhi Maran and senior Congress leaders, including finance minister Pranab Mukherjee.

“It’s a winning alliance," said Ghulam Nabi Azad, Congress general secretary in charge of Tamil Nadu.

Another Congress leader, who did not want to be identified, said 48 of the 63 seats were the same on which the party had contested five years ago, while 12 more were those sought by it in initial discussions.

One of the remaining seats given to the Congress had earlier been allotted to the DMK while two more came from the Pattali Makkal Katchi’s kitty, said the Congress leader.

The DMK heads the alliance in the state, while backing the Congress-led Central government with its 18 members in the Lok Sabha.

But as seat-sharing talks for the Tamil Nadu elections reached an impasse, the DMK on Saturday withdrew unconditional support to the Central government. Two days later, the party’s Union ministers, including two cabinet and four junior ministers, threatened to resign.

The decision was put off until Tuesday, when the two sides reached the seat-sharing agreement. But even though the number of seats for each party has been decided, it is not clear if the Congress will get to choose which seats it would contest.

Liz Mathew and PTI contributed to the story