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Seat-sharing row: Pranab says ties with DMK to remain intact

Chennai/New Delhi: The fate of the seven-year-old DMK-Congress alliance hung in balance on Saturday following “problems” in seat-sharing in poll-bound Tamil Nadu and all eyes riveted on the regional party which said it will take “proper and appropriate decision” on a tie-up.

Congress on its part said “problems” besetting the alliance with the Dravidian party would be “solved” amid unconfirmed reports that Congress President Sonia Gandhi had a telephonic talk with DMK supremo and Chief Minister M Karunanidhi over the issue of sharing of seats.

A Congress leader who did not want to be named claimed in New Delhi that everything has been sorted out.

“I can assure you in our political relationship, we have sometimes some problems. We have the capacity to create problems and at the same time, solve the problems and it will be solved”, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee told reporters in New Delhi.

DMK’s high-level policy making committee is due to meet this evening with Karunanidhi asking whether it was proper for Congress, which had agreed for 60 seats earlier, to now demand 63 seats over telephone.

The Congress stand that it would decide on the constituencies to be contested was highly improper, he said in a post-midnight statement in Chennai.

The DMK and the Congress have held three rounds of discussions on seat-sharing for the April 13 Assembly elections, but no headway could be made due to differences between the two parties.

The DMK supremo said right from 2004, when the two parties struck an alliance, the relationship between them were very smooth and the central and state governments were functioning without any confusion.

He said when talks were initiated between the parties, Congress was told that it would be given 51 seats, which was later increased to 53, 55 and 58. “When AICC general secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad met me two days ago, it was agreed that the Congress would be given 60 seats,” he added.

But after agreeing to sign the poll accord on Thursday, Azad, also a Union Minister, had returned to New Delhi without meeting him, Karunanidhi said.

The Congress demand for the constituencies of its choice was also “highly unfair and improper,” he said.

In 2006 Assembly polls, DMK contested 132 seats, leaving 48 to Congress, 31 to PMK and 23 to the Left parties, he said. A total of 234 seats are up for grabs in the Assembly polls next month.

After his meeting with Congress president Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi on January 31, Karunanidhi said he had confirmed the alliance with the Congress.

It was decided that excess seats arising out of Left parties’ exit from the combine would be shared among both the parties after allocating seats to new entrants like Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi and Kongu Makkal Munnentra Kazhagam, Karunanidhi said.

The DMK was left with only 122 seats (out of the total 234) after allocating 60 seats and the rest to allies, he said.

Under these circumstances, the party’s high level policy making committee, at its meeting would take “proper and appropriate decision” on the alliance issue, he added.

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