LS polls seat sharing: DMK announces list, keeps Chennai for itself

stalin-rahul-congress-dmk-pti (File) Congress President Rahul Gandhi and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) President M K Stalin join hands during the formal launch of 'United Progressive Alliance (UPA)', a campaign in Tamil Nadu from the Kanyakumari parliamentary constituency, at Nagercoil, in Kanyakumari district | PTI

The DMK-led Secular Progressive Alliance has announced the seat sharing arrangement for the 39 Lok Sabha constituencies in Tamil Nadu and the lone seat in Puducherry. The DMK has retained all the three constituencies in Chennai and will contest from three constituencies in the western belt.

The DMK will be contesting from Chennai South, Chennai North, Chennai Central, Sriperumbudur, Kancheepuram (SC), Arakkonam, Vellore, Dharmapuri, Thiruvannamalai, Kallakurichi, Salem, Nilgiris (SC), Pollachi, Dindigul, Cuddalore, Mayiladuthurai, Thanjavur, Thoothukudi, Tenkasi (SC) and Tirunelveli.

The Congress will be contesting from Thiruvallur (SC), Krishnagiri, Arani, Karur, Tiruchirappalli, Sivaganga, Theni, Virudhunagar, Kanyakumari, and the union territory of Puducherry. The CPI has been allotted two seats in Nagapattinam (SC) and Tiruppur, while the CPI(M) has been assigned Coimbatore and Madurai. Thol Thirumavalavan’s VCK has been allotted the Chidambaram (SC) and Villupuram (SC) constituencies which has a big number of dalit votes. Vaiko’s MDMK has been allotted Erode. The IUML will contest from its bastion Ramanathapuram, KMDK, aka the Kongu party, which is strong in west Tamil Nadu will contest from Namakkal and the IJK will fight from Perambalur.

The DMK, after giving away some of the constituencies in Chennai to its alliance partners in the past assembly and Lok Sabha elections, has retained them this time. Sources say, DMK’s principal secretary and senior leader T.R. Baalu, who in 2009 and 2014, shifted from South Chennai to contest from Sriparumbudur and Thanjavur, respectively, is likely to contest from this constituency.

Considered the constituency of the elite and the educated lot in Chennai, South Chennai is marred with water problems. While both the AIADMK and the BJP have a strong vote bank in South Chennai, it was once DMK’s fiefdom which it lost after the 2006 assembly polls to Jayalalithaa led AIADMK. On the other hand, the Central Chennai constituency, the citadel of the DMK first family, in all likely chances,say sources, has been reserved for Dayanidhi Maran. Considered DMK’s bastion, Maran lost to AIADMK’s S.R. Vijayakumar in 2014 by 45,000 votes which was a huge embarrassment for the DMK. At the North Chennai constituency, which has a considerable number of votes for the Left parties, the DMK is expected to face a tough fight.

In the West, where the DMK doesn’t command a big vote share, it is likely to be a tough fight in some of the constituencies like Pollachi, Nilgiris and Salem. Sources say, DMK organising secretary A. Raja will once again contest from Nilgiris. Raja lost to the AIADMK in 2014, as the BJP candidate failed to file form B and withdrew from the elections. In Thoothukudi, it will be Kanimozhi, the DMK’s woman face who is facing electoral politics for the first time and is aiming for a big victory.

While DMK has retained some of its traditional seats in Chennai, north and south Tamil Nadu, the Congress, too, has bagged its traditional seats in the alliance. Sivaganga represented by P. Chidambaram many times and his son Karti Chidambaram in 2014 has been allotted to the Congress. Sources say that the constituency will be contested by a prominent face in Chidambaram’s family. Virudhunagar constituency, where the Congress and the MDMK have a strong hold, is likely to be contested by Manick Thakoor who won a considerable number of votes in 2014 polls when the Congress contested alone. In Kanyakumari, the seat is likely to be contested by H. Vasanthakumar, brother of former PCC president Kumari Ananthan and a relative of the BJP leader Tamilisai Soundrarajan. Vasantha Kumar lost to the AIADMK in 2014 as the Congress contested alone then.

In Theni, which is considered AIADMK’s bastion, Congress’s J.M. Haroon, a former MP and a resourceful leader, might throw the hat in the ring. While it is expected that the AIADMK might retain Theni for O. Panneerselvam’s son Raveendranath Kumar, Haroon is likely to give a tough fight to Kumar. Dhinakaran’s party also commands a considerable support in Theni. With AMMK’s propaganda secretary and Dhinakaran’s lieutenant Thanga Thamizhselvan hailing from Theni, the new AIADMK faction will also put up a brave face in Theni.

Erode being one of the strong holds of the MDMK, Vaiko’s lieutenant and MDMK senior Ganesa Moorthy is all likely to contest from this constituency. And Thol Thirumavalavan is expected to contest from Chidambaram.

While the seat sharing arrangement for the 40 Lok Sabha constituencies have been smooth, it is still being deliberated if Vaiko’s MDMK and Thriumavalavan’s VCK will contest in the DMK’s ‘Rising Sun’ symbol. Meanwhile, Pariventhar’s IJK and KDMK will contest in DMK’s symbol from Perambalur and Namakkal, respectively.

The DMK led Secular Progressive Front has not released the seat sharing list for the 18 assembly constituencies which will go for bypolls on April 18. The constituencies that will go to polls on April 18 are Poonamallee (SC), Perambur, Thiruporur, Sholingur, Gudiyattham (SC), Ambur, Hosur, Pappireddippatti, Harur (SC), Nilakkottai (SC), Thiruvarur, Thanjavur, Manamadurai (SC), Andipatti, Periyakulam (SC), Sattur, Paramakudi (SC) and Vilathikulam.