Thursday, March 3, 2011

Tamil Nadu: Congress-DMK meeting on seat sharing cancelled

Chennai, March 3: The deadlock between Tamil Nadu's ruling DMK and its major ally Congress over seat sharing for the upcoming April 13 assembly elections continued today with a meeting on the issue being cancelled.

A two-hour meeting on the issue had ended inconclusively late on Wednesday and it was announced that the two parties would meet today morning.

However, the meeting got cancelled as Ghulam Nabi Azad, Congress general secretary and in-charge of party's Tamil Nadu affairs, who led the party's negotiating team, left for Delhi along with state chief K.V. Thangkabalu.

Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi had told reporters Wednesday night that the talks would resume today.

Interestingly, soon after the meeting got over, the DMK announced the allotment of seven seats to the KMK, thereby taking the total number of seat-sharing deals to five -- involving 52 seats in the 234 member house.

The DMK had earlier signed agreements with the MMK, VCK, PMK and the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), allotting them one, 10, 31 and three seats respectively.

Reacting to the allotment of seats to KMK, a Congress official said the DMK was trying to force the party to accept what was being offered.

While what transpired between the leaders of Congress and the DMK at the Wednesday meeting is not known, it is learnt that Azad and Thangkabalu will apprised their party president Sonia Gandhi on the development.

It is believed that the Congress had demanded some 80-90 seats while DMK was willing to part with only 53 seats - five more than what was given in 2006 elections. The Congress has also demanded a share in power if the alliance is voted back to power and writing down a common minimum programme (CMP).

The DMK had told Congress that the question of power-sharing would arise only after the elections.

TN parties set to speed up process of firming up alliances

Chennai: With just 17 days left for filing of nominations to begin for the April 13 Assembly polls in Tamil Nadu, political parties are set to hasten the process of firming up alliances.

The ruling DMK, which had completed the seat sharing exercise with minor allies like PMK, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi, IUML and Movendar Munnetra Kazhagam, is to yet to do so with its major ally Congress.

Congress and DMK had several rounds of talks which, however, got bogged down with the former insisting on more number of seats this time.
A final picture is likely to emerge tomorrow or day after, with the AICC general secretary in charge of Tamil Nadu, Ghulam Nabi Azad rushing here to sort out various issues. 

Congress sources said the party was likely to settle for 50 to 60 seats, amid reports that it had pitched for over 80 seats as against the 48 allotted last time.

DMK said its President and Chief Minister M Karunanidhi would interview from March 8-13 partymen who had sought ticket to contest the elections. 

In the AIADMK front, seat sharing exercise has been completed with minor parties like Puthiya Tamizhagam, RPI, AIFB, All India Movender Munnetra Kazhagam but yet to begin with major allies like MDMK and the left parties. 

AIADMK is awaiting actor Vijaykant's DMDK to come out with its stand. DMDK, which has a potential to play spoilsport, would be the second biggest party in the alliance, in the event of it joining the AIADMK-led Front. 

The poll schedule announced by the Election Commission gives parties a shorter time for campaigning as compared to earlier elections. 

No change in poll schedule: Tamil Nadu Chief Electoral Officer

Chennai, Mar 3 :Amid reservations expressed by some political parties, including the ruling DMK, on scheduling Assembly Polls for April 13, Tamil Nadu Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Praveen Kumar today said there would be no change in the dates and the election would be held as per the schedule announced by the Election Commission (EC).

''There will be no change. The elections to the State Assembly will be held as per the EC's announcement,'' he told reporters here. 

The CEO said the polling schedule would not be revised and it would be held as per the schedule, he said, referring to reservations expressed by the ruling DMK, Left Parties and the BJP over the schedule announced by the EC.

Chief Minister and DMK President M Karunanidhi yesterday took a dig at the EC for hurriedly fixing the polling date and questioned the logic behind the long one-month gap between polling and counting, which was to take place on May 13. 

Questioning the logic behind the long gap, the Chief Minister said the EC had not consulted the State Government before finalising the dates. 

''Being an autonomous body, the EC need not consult any one (in finalising the poll schedule) but ''Ceaser's wife should be above suspicion,'' Mr Karunanidhi said clearly expressing his displeasure over the schedule for State Assembly Polls.

Karunanidhi questions EC's decision on poll dates

Chennai: Slamming the Election Commission for its 'hasty' announcement of schedule for the Tamil Nadu Assembly elections, Chief Minister M Karunanidhi on Wednesday said the state had not been consulted on the dates and wanted to know the rationale behind the poll panel's action.

A day after the EC announced the schedule, the DMK chief said everybody expected the polls to be held either in the last week of April or in the first week of May.

The EC could have given some more time to candidates and political parties and held the polls in April last week or May first week, he wrote in the party organ 'Murasoli'.

He said though polling would be held on April 13, counting would be taken up only on May 13 after a month-long gap, adding the new assembly had to be constituted on May 17 and the time would be too short for completion of the process.

Karunanidhi said the complete results would be out only on May 14 and political parties would have just two days time for ministry formation as the Assembly had to be summoned by May 17 with the term of the present assembly ending on May 16.

Besides, political parties would have just 17 days for campaigning as per the present schedule, he said, adding, the EC had not consulted the state on the dates.

Quoting the saying that Caesar's wife should be above suspicion, he questioned the 'haste' with which the EC had announced the schedule.

"EC is an independent body and there is no need for it to consult anybody," he said sarcastically.
"If the new assembly has to meet on May 17, where is the need for the hurry to conduct the polls on April 13 itself," said Karunanidhi, whose party is yet to cement seat- sharing deal with the Congress.

He said when the Supreme Court was hearing a case on the elections to the proposed Tamil Nadu Legislative Council, which the government has sought to revive, counsel for the EC gave room to the judge to comment that polling could be held after the assembly elections. 

"Did the EC ask him to make such a comment," he asked.

Karunanidhi also asked his party men to start going to the people immediately and canvass for the DMK candidates. 

DMK chief to interview party ticket aspirants from Mar 8-13

Chennai: With the Tamil Nadu assembly polls scheduled for April 13, the ruling DMK on Wednesday said its chief M Karunanidhi will interview partymen who had sought ticket to contest the elections from March 8-13.

The DMK patriarch will meet party workers of different districts during this period at the DMK headquarters, Anna Arivalayam, party general secretary K Anbazhagan said in a statement.

The interview will be held for only those persons who had applied to fight from constituencies that the DMK will contest from, he said.

Karunanidhi will meet DMK workers from Puducherry and Karaikal on March 13.

Meanwhile, the party advanced the last date for filing of filled-in applications by ticket aspirants from March seven to five.

DMK also firmed up its poll-pact with Moovendar Munntera Kazhagam, allotting one seat. The latter will contest on the DMK's symbol, The Rising Sun, a release said.

EC to strictly monitor poll spending: CEO

Thiruvananthapuram: The Election Commission has evolved an effective system to monitor the expenditure by candidates and to check `paid news' in media through constant evaluation in the coming assembly elections, State Chief Electoral Officer Nalini Netto said on Wednesday.

Addressing reporters here, she said all candidates were required to open an exclusive bank account for campaign in the election, scheduled for April 13 in the state. The expenditure committee would monitor the spending from the day a candidate gets nominated by a party, she said.

The maximum amount which could be spent by a candidate for campaign was Rs 16 lakh. The EC had set up video surveillance teams to observe the campaign of political parties. A shadow observation register on spending would be kept as a folder of evidence in the event of cases coming up against candidates after the elections, she said.

Expert committees had also been formed at the state and district levels to evaluate targetted news items in the media in favour of or against a particular candidate or party, being `planted for a consideration,' she said.

People were also asked not to carry cash in bulk without citing proper reason as there would be checking by flying squads during the campaign period.

Non-resident Keralites could also vote in the coming elections in the polling station he belonged to as per the address in the passport. The NRKs would have to apply through Embassies.

The state electoral office would file daily reports on the law and order situation in the state to the Election Commission, based on which the EC would decide on sending central forces to polling stations.
For the first time, the EC would provide the voter's slip to all voters.

In the first assembly election in the state based on the voter's list after the 2002 delimitation of constituencies, Kerala has a total of 2,28,78,767 voters of which 1,09,59,115 are men and 1,19,19,652 are women.

There would be 20,578 polling stations and around 500 auxilliary polling stations for the poll. The EC would send 50 general observers, besides expenditure observers, Netto said.

After the model code of conduct for poll came into force yesterday, she had received around 50 complaints of violation, Netto said.