New Delhi, Jan 8 (PTI) As Tamil Nadu gears up for assembly polls in the next few months, Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar has said his party can only ask for seats in the state and will accept whatever is given by its dominant alliance partner DMK, asserting that ultimately the decision rests with 'Thalapathy' M K Stalin.
Aiyar, who has been named in three key panels set up by Congress for Tamil Nadu polls, also said in an interview with PTI that it would detrimental for the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) if it allies with the BJP in the assembly elections.
On the AIADMK leadership recently saying its alliance with the BJP will continue for the 2021 assembly elections, Aiyar said even as there has been speculation about the alliance, he would not take it as a given reality until this is manifested in the election campaign itself and how different factions of the AIADMK react to such an alliance.
However, he added that if the alliance materialises, it would be detrimental for the AIADMK.
Asked about seat-sharing with Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and if the Congress should be a bit more conservative in asking for seats after the Bihar debacle, Aiyar said the DMK is so dominant in the alliance that 'we can only ask them for seats, it is they who give it'.
'They decide one day that they will give 12 parliamentary seats and on another day adamantly refuse to go beyond nine because they allowed us to contest from Puducherry, saying that is your 10th seat. So whatever the Congress may do or plead, ultimately the decision rests with 'Thalapathy' Stalin and Thalapathy (a Tamil word for commander) is going to be realistic,' he said.
'We will accept whatever is given to us. The negotiation will merely concentrate on the margins. For example, I would greatly press for the Mayiladuthurai assembly segment to be given to the Congress because no DMK candidate has won that seat for ages and my candidate has been MLA from there previously,' Aiyar said, adding that there are other seats as well for which such an argument can be made.
'I think it would be unrealistic for us to expect more seats than we got last time. There may be a change in location of some of these seats but in numbers, at most, there would be a marginal rise, or God forbid, a marginal decrease,' he said.
The Congress contested 41 seats in the last assembly polls in Tamil Nadu but could win only eight seats. The state has a 234-member assembly.
Aiyar also asserted that the BJP will not be making much headway in the Tamil Nadu electoral scene.
He alleged that the BJP will certainly attempt to 'stir the communal cauldron', but in the process will lose the sympathy of both Hindus and Muslims, and of all those who stand for communal harmony, which means an overwhelming share of the electorate.
The assembly polls in Tamil Nadu are likely to take place in April-May. PTI ASK BJ BJ