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Wednesday, February 21, 2001

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TN: Cong. 'pessimistic'

By Javed M. Ansari

NEW DELHI, FEB 20. The seat-sharing talks between the Congress and the AIADMK have run into rough weather. The AIADMK chief, Ms. Jayalalitha's refusal to part with an adequate number of seats to the Congress and her uncompromising attitude on the question of the PMK appear to have cast a shadow over the alliance.

The mood in the Congress camp after the return of the emissaries - Mr. Pranab Mukherjee and Mr. Ghulam Nabi Azad - appeared pessimistic. The party chief, Ms. Sonia Gandhi, and the senior leaders, Mr. Madhavrao Scindia, Mr. Natwar Singh, Mrs. Ambika Soni and Mr. Janardhan Reddy, were briefed today by the emissaries.Mr. Azad said consultations were still on.

The Congress leadership appears buffeted by the uncompromising attitude of Ms. Jayalalitha and the pressure from within its ranks not to allow itself to be pushed into accepting an alliance on humiliating terms. A view that appears to be gaining ground is that under the circumstances, the party should, along with the TMC and other like-minded parties, chalk its own course rather than give in to the strong-arm tactics of the AIADMK.

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