The polling for 38 seats in Tamil Nadu and for the lone Puducherry seat was held in one phase on April 18.
Neither the BJP nor the Congress is likely to get majority in the Lok Sabha polls, said DMK leader Andimuthu Raja, but added a Congress-led “secular alliance” that will include regional parties may emerge to form the next government at the Centre. Raja–a four-time MP who is contesting for the third time from Nilgiris, a seat reserved for the Scheduled Caste(SC) category–said regional parties are keeping their cards close to the chest and their strategy will largely depend on the numerical strength of rival alliances post-elections.
A former union minister, Raja, who was accused in the 2G spectrum allocation case but acquitted in 2017, predicted that the BJP may not cross 200 seats out of 543, while the Congress stands a good chance of getting more than 150 seats and the remaining for the regional parties. “Congress and BJP may not get an absolute majority. But chances are that Congress may lead a secular alliance after the elections,” Raja told PTI in an interview over the weekend. DMK is an ally of the Congress. “I cannot give an exact numerical figure.
Politically, I can say that the Congress will improve and may cross 150. BJP will not cross 200 and regional parties will account for bulk of the rest,” he added. Congress won only 44 seats in 2014 Lok Sabha polls. In Tamil Nadu, he said the DMK-led grand alliance that includes the Congress will get 30 to 33 out of the 38 seats at stake. Polling has been cancelled in Vellore constituency. The polling for 38 seats in Tamil Nadu and for the lone Puducherry seat was held in one phase on April 18.
The AIADMK won 37 of the 39 seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. This is the first general election in the state after the demise of two political stalwarts — AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa and DMK’s M Karunanidhi. The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) believes that regional parties standing for secularism may accept the leadership of Congress and and its chief Rahul Gandhi if the numbers of anti-BJP parties add up to a majority, Raja said. Asked if regional parties like Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and YSR Congress(YSRCP) from the two Telugu states will extend support to a Congress-led coalition, Raja said: “TRS or YSRCP or TMC or BSP or Sharad Pawar(of NCP)and even SP’s Akhilesh Yadav may be having little differences with Congress, but all are united in the fight to uphold secularism.”
Claiming that no regional parties will support BJP post-poll, the DMK leader said, “Tell me, which party is going with BJP openly. They are silent but they are talking about secularism. What does it mean? After the poll they might veer towards the Congress.” “Whether or not they accept Rahul Gandhi, M K Stalin (DMK chief) or other chiefs of regional parties as their leader, the only agenda is to fight BJP and protect secularism of this country and uphold the constitutional values,” he said.
“Wait and see, the game is secularism versus non-secularism. Secularism needs a system and the system needs a person. We have the system and this will culminate into a person after the elections,” he added. On the possibility of a prime ministerial candidate emerging from regional parties, Raja said, “This should be discussed after the results. Who knew Deve Gowda or I K Gujral would have been PM?” Raja also claimed that people are against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the AIADMK government in Tamil Nadu.
“There is anti-incumbency in both the state and the Centre.” “The DMK will win all 20 LS seats it is contesting. The alliance will take the total tally to 30-33,” he said, adding that the AIADMK-BJP alliance will work in favour of the DMK. “DMK is not facing any vacuum after the death of Karunanidhi because there is a second line of leadership in place unlike AIADMK,” he said.
Asked if 2G scam will hurt his electoral prospects, Raja said, “It is not. People are sympathetic towards me. (Judge)O P Saini’s judgement is very clear. The entire charge-sheet is choreographed. “There was no case at all. The entire case of 2G was made out because of non-reading of the file, misreading of the file and selective reading of the file. The then CAG chief Vinod Rai did not give an holistic approach.”