DMK-congress seat-sharing talks inconclusive


Staff member
Chennai February 26:

Ongoing talks between the DMK and the Congress entered a phase of tough negotiations, with both sides sticking to their positions during the second round that took place night at Anna Arivalayam, the DMK headquarters.

According to sources, the DMK was offering no more than 53 seats, while the national party was demanding nearly 90. Nor was there any agreement on the Congress demand for sharing power, a coordination committee and a common minimum programme. The DMK argument was that after accommodating other allies, it could spare only five seats for the Congress over and above the 48 given to the national party in 2006.

After the inconclusive second round, DMK president and Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi denied a suggestion that the Congress demand for share in power was proving to be a big hurdle. “It is all your imagination,” Mr. Karunanidhi told reporters, when asked whether the Congress stand was delaying an agreement. “We have moved on to the third round of talks,” he said. When asked how many seats the Congress had demanded, he initially said it was a secret. And then quipped, “All 234 seats.”

Earlier, the five-member team, comprising TNCC president K.V. Thangkabalu, Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram, Shipping Minister G.K. Vasan, party spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan and Jayakumar, MLA, held talks with the DMK election committee, headed by Deputy Chief Minister M.K. Stalin. Emerging from the meeting, all that TNCC president K.V. Thangkabalu would say was: “We had a cordial meeting and discussed our position on various issues. Now, we will convey the outcome of the meeting to our respective leaders.”

Expectations rose when Mr. Karunanidhi arrived at Anna Arivalayam some time after the Congress leaders had begun their parleys with the DMK's election committee. But there was no progress in the talks and the Congress leaders left without meeting Mr. Karunanidhi.