The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) on Tuesday announced that it would contest 20 of the 40 parliamentary seats in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, yielding to its eight alliance partners in order to take on the alliance of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
According to the pre-poll agreement, the Congress will contest 10 seats, including one in Puducherry, the Communist Party of India (CPI), Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) will contest two seats each and four other partners will contest one seat each, M.K. Stalin, DMK president, said on Tuesday in Chennai.
The conclusion of the seat sharing talks, which have left the DMK with far fewer seats than it originally anticipated, highlights the lack of confidence in the capacity of the regional outfit earlier led by M.Karunanidhi to defeat the pre-poll alliance of the AIADMK and the BJP.
The need for alliances was necessitated by reports and surveys suggesting that no single political party would emerge a clear winner in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
“I felt that they (DMK) conceded a bit more under the circumstances," Sumanth Raman, said a Chennai-based political analyst, adding that the party could have given just one seat each to the CPI, CPI (M) and VCK.
The Congress, which has seen its vote share in Tamil Nadu erode over the years to just 4.37% in 2014, is looking to ride piggyback on the DMK to gain lost ground. On the other side, the AIADMK, without its leader J.Jayalalithaa, was forced to ally with the BJP as fighting the elections alone would have proved costly for the party, analysts said.
The alliance with the national parties emphasises how the two regional outfits have ceded support in Tamil Nadu in recent times, leaving room for the Congress to regain ground and offering the BJP an opportunity to penetrate into the south Indian state.
The AIADMK won 37 seats and the BJP and Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) recorded one victory each in the state in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. The DMK failed to register a victory despite contesting 34 seats in Tamil Nadu and one in Puducherry and raking in 23.91% of the total vote share.
The BJP will contest five seats as part of its alliance with the AIADMK, which will field its candidates and those of its smaller allies in the remaining seats.
“Anything that weakens the AIADMK or the DMK favours the two national parties. That is the bottom line in Tamil Nadu," Raman said.
The DMK is hoping to cash in on the split within the AIADMK between the V.K. Sasikala-T.T.V. Dinakaran faction and the one led by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami and his deputy O. Panneerselvam.
Warring factions within established parties and the rise of new political outfits like those of actor Kamal Hassan are threatening to erode some of the support base of parties like the AIADMK and DMK, which have taken turns to rule Tamil Nadu for over four decades.