Ahead of the April 6 Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) has completed seat-sharing discussions with its allies. Portraying BJP as their central opponent, the MK Stalin-led party brings together Congress, CPI, CPI (M), Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK), Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK), Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) and Manithaneya Makkal Katchi (MMK).
On March 5, the DMK signed the seat-sharing agreement with the CPI allotting the left party with six seats, and on March 6, the CPM was allotted the same number. Stalin signed the agreement with CPI state secretary R Mutharasan and CPM state general secretary K Balakrishnan. On the other hand, MDMK gained six seats as well, and Stalin signed the agreement with the party’s general secretary Vaiyapuri Gopalsamy (better known as Vaiko) on March 6. DMK had decided, earlier last week, on the seat-sharing with IUML and the MMK allotting them three and two seats respectively.
Meanwhile, after a long negotiation, Stalin finally gave way and agreed to let the Congress contest in 25 seats, from the earlier agreed 21. Moreover, the latter would also field their candidate for the Kanyakumari Lok Sabha bypoll. The seat-discussion in Tamil Nadu had created a rift between Congress and DMK, as the latter was only willing to give the Congress 21 seats. This was despite the intervention of former Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and other Congress leaders.
However, sources within the DMK said that Stalin was not wrong to make such a claim. The Congress had contested 41 seats in the 2016 Assembly elections but could only win in eight. The party had also featured an abysmal performance during the Bihar 2020 elections, where they only won from 19 seats off 70 seats allotted to them. The recent incident in Puducherry also does not instill a lot of confidence, adds the DMK source. Voices within the party claim that their victory chance reduces by giving more seats to Congress.
The DMK-Congress-led alliance did not perform well in the TN state Assembly election in 2016. The alliance won only 97 out of the 232 Assembly seats, with 40 per cent of the vote share. However, the alliance did much better in the Lok Sabha and won 37 out of 38 Lok Sabha seats in the 2019 election.
The DMK’s decision on the Congress comes a day after its rival AIADMK allotted 20 seats of the total 234 in the upcoming Tamil Nadu Assembly Elections to the BJP. Speaking on the agreement with the DMK, Congress in-charge of Tamil Nadu Dinesh Gundu Rao said that the pact was signed in “a spirit of cooperation” when the country was facing a serious “threat” from the BJP.
Meanwhile, Stalin released his 10-year “vision document” at a public meeting in Tamil Nadu’s Tiruchirapalli on Sunday. The vision document touches upon several sectors, including economy, agriculture, water management, education plus health and sanitation, urban development, rural infrastructure and social justice.
Soon after Stalin announced his big electoral promises for the state, Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) chief Kamal Haasan accused the DMK of stealing their ideas. Kamal says Stalin copied his promise of providing a monthly salary for homemakers, creation of 50 lakh job opportunities and upliftment of people living below the poverty line.
“He [Stalin] has taken our ideas and echoed it in his language. When I said we would pay salary to homemakers, he said he would give Rs 1,000 per month to them. We are the first political party to make such a promise,” Kamal said. The actor also said that his party had promised the creation of 50 lakh jobs in five years. “Now, he says they will create 10 lakh jobs per year. It is another way to say 50 lakh jobs in five years,” he added.
Speaking at a public meeting, Kamal reiterated that the reason he keeps saying this was that “they will claim that they came up with these ideas”. Calling the Dravidian parties a “corrupt conglomerate”, Kamal Haasan urged people to vote for MNM to “save the state”.