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'BJP-Sena's coming together was a foregone conclusion'

BJP-Senas coming together was a foregone conclusion

Chennai: The ruling AIADMK in Tamil Nadu and the BJP on Tuesday sealed an alliance for the coming Lok Sabha elections under which the saffron party would contest five of the 39 seats in the state.

The announcement was made by AIADMK coordinator and deputy chief minister O Panneerselvam and Union Minister and senior BJP leader Piyush Goyal, party election in-charge for Tamil Nadu, with both describing it as a "mega alliance and a victorious coalition".

The coming Lok Sabha polls is the first major electoral battle for the AIADMK after the demise of its charismatic leader J Jayalalithaa in December, 2016.

Goyal expressed confidence that the alliance would win all 40 seats, including the lone constituency in neighbouring union territory of Puducherry, "as a mark of respect to late Jayalalithaaji, the honourable Amma."

The pact was reached after the second and final round of discussions held here by leaders of the two parties that also involved Chief Minister K Palaniswami.

"I am extremely delighted that today the AIADMK and the BJP have concluded very fruitful discussions and we have agreed to contest the Parliament elections both in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry and the bypolls to 21 assembly seats together in alliance," Goyal told a crowded press conference.

The alliance would be under AIADMK in Tamil Nadu while at the national level the BJP led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi will steer the NDA coalition, he said.

Panneerselvam said: "It was decided to face the Lok Sabha elections in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry by forging a mega, victorious alliance. I am happy to announce that the BJP has been allotted five Lok Sabha seats under the poll pact."

He said the BJP would extend its full support to the AIADMK in the bypolls expected to the 21 constituencies as part of the agreement.

The AIADMK-BJP alliance was firmed up hours after the Dravidian party clinched a deal with the Paatali Makkal Katchi, alloting seven seats to it.

PMK has a significant clout in northern and western parts of the state where the dominant most backward Vanniyar community forms its key support base.

It was not clear yet how many seats the AIADMK would contest as some more parties, including DMDK of actor-turned politician Vijaykant, were likely to be included in the alliance.

The tie-up with BJP and PMK is for both Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, Panneerselvam said.

The details about the constituencies to be alloted to the alliance partners would be announced later, the AIADMK said.

Besides Goyal, Tamil Nadu BJP president Tamilisai Soundararajan and Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan were among those who represented the party in the talks with the AIADMK's five-member seat sharing led by senior leader K P Munusamy at a star hotel here.

Palaniswami, co-coordinator of AIADMK, and Panneerselvam joined the negotiations and finalised the deal.

The first round of talks were held on Feb 14.

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