A delegation of Congress leaders comprising Tamil Nadu Congress Committee president KS Alagiri, AICC leaders Oomen Chandy, Randeep Singh Surjewala and AICC in charge of TNCC Dinesh Gundu Rao held the first round of negotiations with DMK leaders led by its general secretary Duraimurugan, treasurer TR Baalu and MP Kanimozhi.
DMK sources privy to the negotiations revealed that the Congress party had put its initial request at around 55 seats. However, the DMK has stuck to its offer of less than 20 seats, sources disclosed. “The talks were not elaborate as it was only first round of negotiations. Our leaders offered to get back after consulting our party president,” the highly placed DMK source revealed.
“They started at 57 and gave reasons for demanding thus. Duraimurugan stuck to around 18 seats. Only this time our leaders made the offer very politely,” the source added. Though the official seat sharing talks at the highest level began on Thursday, informal preliminary talks have been happening at second rung leaders level for a while now. As Alagiri, emerging out of the talks, described the negotiations as amicable and good, a senior Congress in the know revealed that Alagiri had deputed a senior Congress leader who had already met and discussed the numbers with DMK district secretary EV Velu recently.
The influential district secretary close to Stalin was understood to have had similar talks with other allies too. The DMK, party insiders said, was keen on fixing the numbers with allies in the first week of March so that it could finalise the constituencies and parade its candidates during the March 14 state conference to be held in Tiruchy.
According to DMK sources, Stalin wants to restrict Congress to around 20 seats or in the worst case to 25 seats and nothing more.