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Applications pour in as parties prepare for seats sharing

Wednesday 8 February 2006, by JAYANTH*V.

DMK all set to begin parleys with allies at a meeting convened by Karunanidhi

AIADMK began distributing forms a week ago, DMK four days back The AIADMK is still in the process of finalising its allies DMK has constituted a committee to discuss seats sharing with allies

CHENNAI: Party offices are coming to life with preparations under way for the Assembly elections.

The All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam have pressed ahead with the distribution of applications. While the AIADMK began the distribution a week ago, the DMK started the process four days back.

The momentum is picking up, though the applicants have a problem to contend with: will the seat he or she is seeking remain with the party or get allotted to an ally? In the latter case, they may lose both the seat and the application fee.

On Tuesday, the turnout at the offices of the two parties was "less than normal," according to those involved in the exercise. At the DMK office, barricades were erected and tables provided to the applicants to sit down and fill up the applications. At the AIADMK office, party members made do with a limited number of chairs. But the crowds were more. "Being a Tuesday, there were fewer takers today. There were long queues during the weekend, when people from the districts poured in," party sources said.

The AIADMK is still in the process of finalising its allies. The task has been easier in neighbouring Kerala and the Union Territory of Pondicherry, which will also go to polls along with Tamil Nadu. In Kerala, the AIADMK is exploring an alliance with the Democratic Indira Congress-Karunakaran. In Pondicherry, it is trying to tie up with the Puducherry Makkal Congress of former Minister P. Kannan. But it may take a while to firm up any arrangement here.

The DMK, heading the seven-party Democratic Progressive Alliance, has to finalise seat sharing with allies. Obviously, the demands from the allies are higher than what the DMK would like to offer. After a series of reports in a section of the media about the seat-sharing arrangement, some of the allies, notably the Communist parties, pressed Mr. Karunanidhi to take up the issue before it created any problem or fissure.

Mr. Karunanidhi has convened a meeting of DPA leaders here on Wednesday to begin the exercise. Some of the alliance partners feel it cannot be settled at one meeting, but a rough idea of what the demands are, and how much the DMK is willing to offer, may be available after the meeting. The DMK has constituted a committee, headed by party treasurer N. Veerasamy, to discuss the sharing of seats with the allies. But some of the DPA members prefer to deal directly with Mr. Karunanidhi on the number of seats before they come down to identifying the constituencies with the committee. The DMK chief plans to even name a few candidates at the party’s State conference in Tiruchi in the first week of March. Hopefully, the seat-sharing exercise will be completed in a week or two, after which the identification of constituencies will take place.

The AIADMK, which has kept its "doors open" for alliances, may stand to gain if the DMK takes up the issue first and ends up not being able to offer enough seats to satisfy all allies. Obviously, the DMK would like to contest enough seats to try for a majority on its own, if the wind blows in its favour. The dropouts, if any, may land up in the AIADMK camp before long - reports speak of "informal contacts."

Petty stalls, mobile canteens and tea vendors are having a field day in front of the AIADMK and DMK offices, and they will move to the other party offices when they begin the work too.

See online : The Hindu

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