The DMK released its list of candidates for 20 seats in Tamil Nadu on Sunday, earmarking four for children of leaders and two for women in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. The rest of the 20 constituencies will go to the Congress and other allies.
MK Stalin's sister, MK Kanimozhi, will be one of the two women contesting the polls on party tickets this time. With her Rajya Sabha term ending in July, the journalist-turned-politician will make her electoral debut from Tuticorin. Ironically, the party has allotted just 10% of its total seats for women although it champions the passage of the Women's Reservation Bill, which aims to earmark 33% seats for them. "We have only followed the pattern adopted by our founder, M Karunanidhi, who had earlier allotted two seats for women," said MK Stalin by way of an explanation.
The children of former DMK leaders who will be contesting on a DMK ticket this time are senior leader Durai Murugan's son Kadir Anand from Vellore; K Ponmudi's son Dr Gautham from Kallakurichi; Arcot Veerasamy's son Kalanidhi; and late leader Thangapandian's daughter Sumathi alias Tamilachi Thangapandian from South Chennai.
While as many as 13 of the candidates are new faces, the DMK has not left out its former Union ministers from the list. The party allotted Sriperumpudur to TR Baalu, Central Chennai to Dayanidhi Maran, the Nilgiris to A Raja and Arakkonam to S Jagathrakshakan.
This will be the first time MK Stalin leads the party into an electoral battle, which comes months after the death of his father -- M Karunanidhi -- due to a prolonged illness in August last year. The DMK chief paid his respects at Karunanidhi's memorial and dropped by ailing party general secretary K Anbazhagan's residence before releasing the list of candidates.
The DMK and Congress fought separately in the 2014 elections, drawing a blank as the Jayalalithaa-led AIADMK romped home with 37 of 39 seats. However, there was no doubt about the two forming an alliance this time, with MK Stalin openly terming Congress president Rahul Gandhi as the opposition's best bet for the prime ministerial post a few months ago.
MK Stalin shrugged off a question on the reason for all the DMK candidates being rich, saying that they were chosen from the "winnability point of view".
While the Congress will contest from 10 of the remaining 20 seats, the smaller parties in the alliance will share the rest among themselves. The DMK-Congress alliance had won all 39 seats in Tamil Nadu in 2004, and that is a target both hope to achieve in this election too.
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