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‘We don’t need you, you need us’ — the DMK line that forced Sonia Gandhi to call Stalin

Sonia Gandhi called up Stalin Saturday night to seal the seat-sharing deal, with the DMK finally handing over 25 seats to the Congress, 16 less than in 2016.

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New Delhi: Tamil Nadu Congress chief K.S. Alagiri broke down last Friday as he felt insulted by a senior DMK functionary telling him “we don’t need you, you need us”, ThePrint has learnt. 

Sources in the Tamil Nadu Congress said this prompted Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi to call up DMK chief Stalin Saturday night and seal the deal between the two parties: The Congress has got 25 seats, plus the Kanyakumari Lok Sabha bypoll seat as part of the arrangement. 

Alagiri was left in tears in a meeting of the party’s state executive committee late last Friday, and talked about how he felt “affronted” by the DMK leaders in the seat-sharing talks, which until that point had been going on for nearly 10 days.

Sources said the DMK functionary in question said his party did not need “coalition drama” and that it “can go by themselves”.  

“We don’t need you, you need us,” a Congress Tamil Nadu executive committee member quoted the DMK leader as saying during the alliance talks. 

To begin with, the two allies began the talks on the wrong foot. When senior Congress leaders went down to the DMK headquarters in Chennai for the first round of talks on 25 February, they complained about not being received by any senior DMK leaders. 

The Congress side was represented by former Kerala chief minister Oommen Chandy, the party’s Tamil Nadu in-charge Dinesh Gundu Rao, MLA K.R. Ramasamy, national spokesperson Randeep Surjewala and Alagiri, and they were expecting some heavyweight DMK leaders to be present there to receive them but that wasn’t the case. 

The DMK’s three-member committee to lead the talks, consisting of MP Kanimozhi, party treasurer T.R. Baalu and general secretary Durai Murugan, showed up but only later, sources said. This is said to have offended the Congress leaders present there.

From there, the talks only went downhill, when the two parties realised the wide gap in their seat-sharing expectations. 

Also read: There’s no stopping Modi govt because Rahul Gandhi is flaunting his muscles as Congress sinks

Seat-sharing tussle

The DMK, the senior alliance partner, wasn’t willing to concede more than 18 seats to the Congress, which had demanded up to 50 seats in the 234-member assembly.

“We won nine seats in Tamil Nadu in the previous Lok Sabha elections, so we were looking for something of a proportionate measure in the assembly polls,” a second Tamil Nadu Congress leader said on condition of anonymity.

To this, however, the DMK turned around and said that since there are only two assembly seats in each of the nine Lok Sabha seats, the best the party could concede to the Congress is 18 seats, the source added. 

According to the second source, the second round of talks took place on 2 March, at which only Alagiri and Ramasamy were present from the Congress side. This time, the DMK was willing to go up to 24 seats, which it considered a generous offer given how the initial figure was 18.

The Congress demanded that the party should at least be given the seats it got in the 2016 assembly polls — 41. But given that the party had won only eight of these 41 seats, it didn’t have much bargaining power.

The source said the Congress leaders returned red-faced and aghast, unsure of how to proceed further. After this, there ceased to be any formal talks between the two parties, even though informally various factions of the two parties continued to meet.

The situation, however, escalated when Alagiri broke down at the party’s internal Friday meeting — telling his colleagues he felt “wronged” by the DMK.  

“It was primarily the issue of seats but was aggravated by the words of a few DMK leaders about the Congress’ worth that got to him,” a third Congress leader said.

Just when it looked like things couldn’t get worse for the two alliance partners, actor-turned-politician Kamal Hasan’s Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) invited the Congress party for an alliance Saturday. 

How Sonia’s call to Stalin turned things around

Sensing things could go out of hand, it was senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram who then flagged concerns to Sonia Gandhi, the third source told ThePrint. 

On Saturday night, Sonia rang up Stalin and had a lengthy conversation about the issues arising between the two alliance partners.

The third source added that Stalin, out of respect for Sonia Gandhi, agreed to increase the seats for the Congress to 25, and also said the party could field a candidate for the Kanyakumari Lok Sabha bypoll, a seat that fell vacant last year after the incumbent  H. Vasanthakumar of the Congress passed away in August.

In this conversation, Gandhi is also said to have “gently reminded” Stalin of the DMK having promised the Congress a Rajya Sabha seat after the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the source said, adding that Stalin responded by giving her the “oral promise” that he will give the Congress a Rajya Sabha seat. 

Gandhi is also said to have flagged issues of the party leaders “not being made to feel respected” by the DMK at the local level. Immediately, a day after this conversation, the DMK and the Congress sealed the deal and Alagiri signed a formal pact at the DMK headquarters.

This time around, the DMK was careful enough to not hurt the Congress leaders’ egos — Kanimozhi went to the car to receive Alagiri, while Stalin was standing and waiting at the DMK office’s door to welcome him, the third source said.

(Edited by Arun Prashanth)

Also read: Treasury bench more serious in attending LS than opposition, Rahul has only 56% attendance


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  1. Mr.Alagiri felt being insulted because the DMK top brass didn’t give the due respect to Mr.Ummen Chandy the top brass of Congress !
    The DMK leader’s comment “We don’t need you you need us” added injury to insult felt Mr Alagiri the Congress top man in Tamilnadu !
    Finally the Congress high-command Sonia Gandhiji had to beg to the DMK high-command Stalin “please don’t ditch the Grand Old Congress Party” ! How sad it is for Congress ?

  2. DMK AND CONGRESS ARE TWO FACES OF A COIN .Both are family parties. History tells how taxes of citizens gone . Tamilnadu remained for years where they are. This is Gift by families. No body bothered. Now a small hope is lighting up due to modiji. That also these are spoiling

  3. Congress party is non existent in Tamilnadu for the last two decades after Moopanar whose period Congress started reemerging as a force.Today, Congress party in Tamilnadu is totally faction ridden and the recently entered BJP has emerged more strongly than Congress. Last 3 Assembly elections, even though Congress party was given more number of seats than it deserved, because of internal squabbles, even the candidate selection could not be finalized till the last minute. The party is in really pathetic condition with mo cadres to work.Also, the present high command including Mr.Alagiri were openly discussing for alliance with Actor Kamalahasan ‘s party that has irritated and infuriated the DMK leaders.Today, the seats allotted to Congress is a winning seat fo ADMK who are flushed with money to maneuver the victory.
    There are several parties in the DMK alliance and every one of them has to be satisfied.
    Congress still wants to take the upper hand when their presence in the national level is fast decading.
    Had the Congress party in Tamilnadu concentrated on the building up the party at grassroots level, such an awkward position would not have been faced.Their leader RahulGandhi behaves like a schoolboy without exhibiting any leadership qualities or political acumen.
    Even giving fifteen seats to Congress is not worth considering their position.

  4. For just naw Subject issue small requieast to massanger for safty like hope just like postion for safty small requieast to massanger for safty for poitical carrier past issue.

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