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Congress team finalised to hold talks with DMK

Smita Gupta

New Delhi: Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram, Union Shipping Minister G.K. Vasan and Rajya Sabha MP and Congress national spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan are among the five members of the team that will negotiate with the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham (DMK) for sharing of seats ahead of the Assembly elections due in May this year.

The announcement was made earlier this week by Union Health Minister and Congress general secretary in charge of Tamil Nadu Ghulam Nabi Azad. The other two members of the team are the Congress' Tamil Nadu State president Thangkabalu and national secretary and State MLA Jaikumar, he said.

The names of the team members were finalised a week after Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and DMK president M. Karunanidhi was here in the national capital, where he had a preliminary round of talks with Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, as well as several senior Congress leaders.

Raja's involvement

During those meetings, it is learnt, Ms. Gandhi discussed the seat-sharing arrangement she hoped to have with the DMK, while the Prime Minister reportedly told Mr. Karunanidhi the details of former Telecom Minister A. Raja's involvement in the 2G spectrum allocation issue. It was immediately after Mr. Karunanidhi's return to Chennai that Mr. Raja was arrested in Delhi.

With the announcement of the negotiating team, the seat-sharing talks will start in real earnest. Party sources say the Congress will make a claim for over 70 seats, and will also make a bid for power-sharing in Tamil Nadu, in case the DMK-led combine is able to win another term.

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