PMK joins AIADMK-led alliance, will contest from 7 seats in TN, Pondy
The Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) on March 19 joined the AIADMK-led (All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam) alliance and will contest from seven of the 40 Lok Sabha seats across Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. The deal will also extend to the bye-elections to 21 Assembly constituencies; the PMK has promised its support to the AIADMK’s candidates. The seats that others will contest including AIADMK and BJP are yet to be finalised.
The seat-sharing agreement was signed at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Adyar, Chennai, by the leaders of both the parties. O Panneerselvam, AIADMK coordinator, PMK founder S Ramadoss, Edappadi K Palaniswami, AIADMK co-coordinator and PMK president GK Mani.
The signing of the deal brought an end to weeks of uncertainty when it seemed that the PMK would hold up the formation of the two main pre-poll alliances in Tamil Nadu. The party was in talks with both the DMK as well as the BJP, with the latter emerging as the front-runner to win its hand.
Accordingly, BJP national president Amit Shah and Union finance minister Piyush Goyal were supposed to visit Chennai at Tuesday afternoon to announce the seat sharing deal.
However, sources said that a disagreement over the number of seats the PMK – up to four were reportedly offered – would contest could not be ironed out in time for Amit Shah’s announcement. Shah, therefore, did not travel to Chennai on February 19.
The agreement, shown to the media by Ramadoss, also assures a Rajya Sabha seat to the PMK. The details of the constituencies in which PMK will field the candidates are yet to be announced.
During the alliance talks, PMK founder Ramadoss put forward 10 demands which includes the release of seven Tamils who are linked with Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination, bringing back the Old Pension Scheme, and to exempt Tamil Nadu from compulsory NEET entrance with the ruling government. A few other deals include waiving of farmer loans, closure of sand quarries, conducting caste-wise census in the state to save the quota.
After sealing the deal, Ramadoss stated that it was a ‘public welfare alliance’.
In 1999 — in the 13th Lok Sabha elections — the PMK was part of the NDA alliance. It got seven seats then and won in five constituencies. In 2009 — in the 15th Lok Sabha elections — the party was in alliance with the AIADMK. It was given six seats but drew a blank. In 2014, the PMK was part of the NDA in Tamil Nadu and was given eight seats and won in one constituency.
Piyush Goyal, who arrived in Chennai on February 19, is expected to meet representatives of the DMDK at the Crowne Plaza.