Congress demand made with high command's blessings


Staff member
Chennai February 22:

The Congress' demand for a share in power, which reflected the wish of the rank and file of the party, was made with the blessings of the party high command, according to informed sources.

For the last two-three years, party workers were concerned that Congress leaders had not conveyed to the DMK leadership their aspiration for power sharing. On Sunday, the five-member committee of the Congress — Union Ministers P. Chidambaram and G.K. Vasan, Tamil Nadu Congress Committee K.V. Thangkabalu, All India Congress Committee spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan and AICC secretary K. Jayakumar — conveyed this in clear terms to the DMK.

The other demands of the party including the formation of a coordination committee and a common minimum programme would add to the winnability of the DMK-led alliance, the sources said. Indicating that the party wanted more than one-third of the total seats to be allotted, the sources said the DMK committee comprising Deputy Chief Minister M.K. Stalin, Ministers Arcot N. Veeraswami, Durai Murugan and K. Ponmudy and parliamentary party leader T.R. Baalu gave the Congress leaders a patient hearing.

As the DMK panel's brief is limited to the finalisation of number of seats and identification of constituencies, the party leaders are of the view that the issue of power sharing involves a policy matter, which can be decided by the DMK president and Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi. The next round of talks hinges on the DMK's response. “The ball is now in their court.” It is also learnt that the Congress has expressed its surprise over the manner in which the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) was able to clinch a deal with the DMK.

Though it recognises the PMK as a valuable addition to the alliance, the party's argument is that the Congress, being the second largest constituent of the DMK-led front, should have been given precedence while finalising seat-sharing. DMK leaders say the party had to conclude the agreement with the PMK quickly as that party was also in touch with the AIADMK.