The Congress and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) on Wednesday announced a pre-poll alliance in Tamil Nadu for the upcoming parliamentary elections, a day after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) joined hands with the other major regional party, All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK).
Both the Congress and the BJP expect the alliances will help them finally make inroads into the state, which has been ruled by the two Dravidian parties for the last four decades. Either way, the political parties from Tamil Nadu are expected to play a bigger role in national politics, if both the Congress and the BJP fail to win the 272 seats needed for a simple majority in the Lok Sabha on their own.
The Congress will contest in 10 seats (nine in Tamil Nadu and one in neighbouring Puducherry) as part of the understanding with the DMK, which will contest the remaining seats, along with Vaiko’s Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (a Dalit party), the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the Communist Party of India and the Indian Union Muslim League, DMK president Stalin said.
The BJP will contest five seats as part of the alliance with the AIADMK, which will contest the remaining seats, along with smaller regional allies.
Congress general secretaries K.C. Venugopal and Mukul Wasnik were in Chennai on Wednesday to conclude the alliance talks with Stalin. On Tuesday, DMK MP Kanimozhi and Tamil Nadu Congress president K.S. Alagiri had met Congress national president Rahul Gandhi in Delhi separately for a final round of discussions.
The coalition also tried to rope in the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) led by S. Ramadoss and his son Anbumani Ramadoss. However, the PMK, which draws its support from the Vanniyars, joined the AIADMK-BJP combine on Tuesday.
The Congress was in alliance with the DMK until the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, when the two parties contested separately, but failed to win a single seat with the AIADMK, then led by the late J. Jayalalithaa, winning 37 of the 39 seats, while the BJP and the PMK picked up one each.
However, the DMK is banking on the absence of Jayalalithaa’s larger-than-life image, anti-incumbency, and the split of the AIADMK vote bank caused by the breakaway factions, such as the one led by Jayalalithaa’s nephew T.T.V. Dhinakaran.