ELEC­TORAL BAR­GAIN­ING AHEAD OF LOK SABHA POLLS InTNAnti-BJPBloc,DMK will Call the Shots, says Raja

Ka­mal and Dhi­nakaran see­ing Congress as part­ner with­out DMK There is no doubt that MK Stalin is the leader of the al­liance. At the same time, I am also con­fi­dent that he will treat his part­ners re­spectably

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics -

Chen­nai: The DMK will have the up­per hand in its al­liance with the Congress in Tamil Nadu, es­pe­cially on the ques­tion of ad­di­tional part­ners to their anti-BJP front ahead of the Par­lia­men­tary elec­tions, with the pre-con­di­tion that they es­pouse “sec­u­lar” causes, the party’s pro­pa­ganda sec­re­tary and for­mer union tele­com min­is­ter A Raja told ET, in what was a com­men­tary on over­tures aimed at the Congress from new en­trant Ka­mal Haasan and VK Sasikala’s nephew TTV Dhi­nakaran.

Haasan had ex­pressed in­ter­est to ally with the Congress on a con­di­tion that the na­tional party cuts off elec­toral ties with the DMK. Dhi­nakaran, ques­tioned ear­lier on pos­si­ble al­liances, had also said his party may con­sider the Congress as a po­ten­tial part­ner on­ly­i­fi­tex­it­s­the­cur­rental­liance with the DMK.

“As far as Tamil Nadu is con­cerned, we [DMK] are the leader in the al­liance. The leader de­cides who forms the sec­ond flank in the bat­tal­ion. We will de­cide who our friends are — the only thing is that they have to be sec­u­lar.”

For the Congr-ess, mor e p o l l p a r t - ners be­sides t he DMK ahead of the Par­lia­men­tary elec­tions is a ben­e­fi­cial de­vel­op­ment to lever­age a per­ceived “a nt i - B J P s e nt i - ment,” ac­cord­ing to Congress spokesper- son Amer­i­cai Narayanan, who said: “There is no doubt that MK Stalin is the leader of the al­liance. At­the­same­time,Ia­malso con­fi­dent that he will treat his part­ners r e s p e c t ably.” Ac­cord­ing to peo­ple aware of elec­toral strate­gies in the Congress, the party i s e x- pected to make an ef­fort to bridge dif­fer­ences be­tween par­ties with a pro­claimed anti-BJP stance in Tamil Nadu in the months closer to the elec­tions. DMK Pres­i­dent MK Stalin, amid spec­u­la­tion of a backchan­nel with the BJP, had clar­i­fied that his tar­get was to stri­dently op­pose the BJP at the hus­tings in his first-ever speech as pres­i­dent af­ter the demise of M Karunanidhi. The speech was seen by Congress party lead­ers in Tamil Nadu, and those in theDMKwill­ingth­eCongress-DMK al­liance to en­dure, as a sign that the al­liance was still in­tact. TheCon­gres­sandtheDMK,which has been in al­liance since the Par­lia­men­tary polls on 2014, has not be­gundis­cussingth­e­seat-shar­ing­pact for the forth­com­ing polls, said Raja.

Raja, along with sev­eral oth­ers in­clud­ing Kanomozhi, were ac­quit­ted last De­cem­ber by a CBI Spe­cial Court in the case of ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties in 2Gspec­tru­mal­lo­ca­tion.Ra­ja­saidhe had been “un­nece­sar­ily pun­ished” inthe­case,andthathisac­quit­tal­has forcedthe­elec­torateto“cor­rect­their im­pres­sion of him.”

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