With just a week left for filing nominations, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) are vigorously continuing seat share talks with their respective alliance partners. Very few alliance pacts have been finalised, and most of the parties are unhappy with the numbers proposed by the two big parties in the respective camps.
The DMK and the AIADMK are simultaneously finalising their own MLA candidates. Both the parties gave open calls for candidates and those interested to contest on behalf of the respective parties were asked to submit petitions. Following which, interviews have been conducted before the final decisions are made by the party governing bodies.
AIADMK SILENT ON SEAT SHARE
The seat sharing talks have moved forward in the AIADMK camp, after showing some rigidity over the number of seats for the alliance partners. Even before inking a pact with the allies, the party announced a first list of six candidates for the polls.
With agreement arrived with the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) and the BJP, talks remain inconclusive with the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK) of actor Vijayakanth, Tamil Maanila Congress (TMC) led by former Union minister G K Vasan and other small parties. By allocating 23 and 20 seats to the PMK and the BJP respectively, the AIADMK has managed to maintain its dominance in the alliance.
BJP will also contest in the by elections to Kanyakumari Lok Sabha constituency, which fell vacant after the demise of H Vasantha Kumar of the Congress.
The DMDK leadership had words of warning for the AIADMK, citing the 2011 elections in which both parties formed a formidable alliance to defeat the DMK. The DMDK has kept the option of contesting alone in case of lesser seats being allocated to them. Meanwhile, the AIADMK is willing to contest in more seats, hoping to win a majority on its own.
The AIADMK leadership held its customary interview with the 8,320 aspirants on March 4. Following the interview, the party has announced a list of 6 candidates for the assembly elections on March 5. Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaliswami (Edappadi), Deputy CM O Panneerselvam (Bodinayakkanur), Ministers D Jayakumar (Royapuram) and C V Shanmugam (Vizhupuuram), sitting members S P Shanmuganathan (Sreevaikuntam) and S Thenmozhi (Nilakottai) have found their places in the list.
Incidentally, the candidates belong to six different castes and represent different geographical locations of the state. The AIADMK seems to be balancing the caste equations, after passing resolution on internal reservation for the Vanniyar community and bringing seven scheduled castes under a single name ‘Devendrakula Vellalar’.
DMK STINGY WITH SEATS
The leaders of the DMK-led alliance were seen walking in and out of Anna Arivalayam, the DMK head office in Chennai. Only a few of those meetings reaped numerical results.
On March 1, a seat-sharing agreement was reached with the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) and the Manithaneya Makkal Katchi (MMK) allotting them three and two seats respectively. On March 4, six seats were agreed upon for the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK). However, the constituencies would be decided later on. On Mach 5, the Communist Party of India (CPI) signed a pact for six seats.
Numbers are yet to be finalised with the Congress, Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK).
Congress reportedly wants to contest in 30 plus seats in this assembly election, but the DMK is willing to spare only 25 seats to the national party. Earlier in the week, there were speculations that the Congress may even ally with Kamal Haasan’s MNM if the desired number of seats are not met with the DMK.
The CPI(M) is expecting a minimum of ten seats in the alliance, but the DMK is said to not go beyond seven. The CPI(M) state secretariat is to meet in the presence of its national general secretary Sitaram Yechury and take a decision on March 6.
The DMK held a meeting of district secretaries on March 5 to discuss MLA candidates and constituency allotments. The party chief MK Stalin has announced that on March 10, the DMK’s candidate list would be released. However, the seat sharing with alliance parties are nowhere near completion.
SASIKALA’S EXIT AND AMMK FUTURE
In an unexpected twist to the plot, VK Sasikala, the former aide of J Jayalalithaa, announced her exit from politics on March 3. She cited the need for a united AIADMK to ensure DMK’s defeat, and stepped down.
The former powerful AIADMK leader, who was expelled from the party, was released from prison less than a month ago, and her re-entry into politics was awaited. The BJP was trying to play the role of big brother all along and convince OPS and EPS to engage with her prior to the assembly elections. Amid reports of BJP hand in Sasikala’s decision to step down, BJP national general secretary in charge of Tamil Nadu, CT Ravi welcomed her decision to step aside from politics on March 4.
Sasikala’s nephew and Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK) general secretary TTV Dinakaran said that he tried to persuade her from not taking the decision. The AMMK, which was started to recapture power in AIADMK and to re-establish Sasikala as the general secretary of AIADMK, is now left without a vision.
Whether AMMK would contest independently or ally with any of the camps is still unclear. At present, the AMMK is collecting submissions for prospective MLA candidates, and is said to hold interviews on March 8 and 9 before finalising names.
KAMAL HAASAN FOCUSES ON CAMPAIGN
Kamal Haasan, who was an early bird for the election campaigns, continues to concentrate on meeting people rather than finalising alliances, seats and constituencies.
Over the past two days, he has taken the rounds in three constituencies in Chennai. In Mylapore, taking a dig at Prime Minister Modi’s attempt at reciting verses from the Thirukkural, he said, “Our language and culture are not for sale”.