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LS polls: DMK drives hard bargain with allies

Contrary to speculations post NDA split, ruling party is likely to offer only 1 seat each to IUML, MDMK

LS polls: DMK drives hard bargain with allies

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CHENNAI: Contrary to the perception that the exit of AIADMK from the NDA (National Democratic Alliance) could increase the bargaining capacity of the ‘smaller’ parties in the INDIA (Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance) in Tamil Nadu, the DMK has been driving a hard bargain with its allies.

The DMK, which has already engaged a couple of its allies (IUML and MDMK) for the Lok Sabha polls, is understood to have proposed a reduction in the existing tally of its allies for the 2024 Lok Sabha election.

If sources in the DMK are to be believed, the Dravidian major, which ‘heads’ the INDIA in the Dravidian hinterland, is understood to have opened the negotiations with MDMK and a few others with a measly one LS seat for next year’s general elections.

Though Anna Arivalayam has yet to hold even preliminary talks with Thol Thirumavalavan-led VCK, which holds two seats (Chidambaram and Villupuram) in the alliance so far, the DMK is said to have communicated its willingness to only apportion one seat to them this time.

The talks are at a very premature level notwithstanding, the rumoured offers were learnt to have been motivated by the DMK’s desire to contest and secure maximum MP seats on its own in what is believed to be a relatively ‘easy’ election for the INDIA block in Tamil Nadu, where the rivals AIADMK, BJP and fledgling one’s like the Naam Tamizhar Katchi are currently light years apart in forging alliance.

A leader in one of the INDIA block parties in the State reasoned on condition of anonymity that it was too early and the abysmally low offer of the DMK was only a mind game usually played by bigger parties during seat negotiations.

“Only if they start at one, the partners would at least settle for the existing tally of two seats. So, it is just a negotiation tactic. We are confident the CM would oblige the allies. It is too early to even speculate on numbers,” said the leader, conceding that the DMK was keen on increasing its tally this year.

A Congress senior unwilling to be quoted said, “We learnt about the numbers proposed to a few parties. With us, it is different. This is a different election. Both small and larger parties must be ready for compromises. The understanding exists even at the national level. We must wait for at least a few more months to even speculate numbers.”

When asked, a DMK senior admitted to the party having plans to contest more seats and said, “Every party would want to contest in the maximum number of seats. The demand is high in this alliance because of our success rate. Of course, the target is to secure all 39 seats for the INDIA block. But, we (DMK) are aware that we must win the maximum seats on our own to increase our leverage post-polls.”

Arguing that the increased bargaining capacity of their allies after the BJP-AIADMK divorce was a media creation or theories floated by BJP sympathisers, the DMK leader said that the alliance is an ideological formation fighting for a national agenda and it would not be swayed by petty differences or local influences.

DMK sources with knowledge of the offer disclosed that Anna Arivalayam has already asked the allies to give them a list of ‘favourite’ seats along with their booth committee mobilisation there.

K Karthikeyan
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