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Raja more coveted than one son and Cong

Chennai, March 10: The DMK today announced its candidates list, shutting out the Congress and M. Karunanidhi’s elder son M.K. Alagiri but appearing to keep the door ajar for the CPI if it decides on a late entry.

The DMK’s nomination of 35 candidates, after having allotted five seats to its four minor allies, means the front has now blocked all the 40 Lok Sabha seats in Tamil Nadu (39) and Puducherry (1).

Asked about the Congress being possibly accommodated later, Karunanidhi said: “I read about such things only in the media.” However, his party’s nomination of two lightweights for the Sivaganga and North Chennai seats seems to be a gesture towards the CPI, still undecided after bigger brother CPM ruled out joining the scam-scarred DMK.

Karunanidhi too dropped a hint about his readiness to welcome the Left, saying the list could be amended if needed.

Two 2G scandal-singed former ministers, A. Raja and Dayanidhi Maran, have been re-nominated from their previous seats, Nilgiris and Chennai Central.

The list includes all the nine constituencies now held by the Congress, its ally in the 2009 polls. Ever since snapping ties in March 2012, the DMK has resisted all efforts by the Congress to revive relations.

“Its (the DMK’s) announcement of 35 candidates makes it clear that there is no room for us in the front,” a senior state Congress leader said.

Anticipating the DMK’s move, Union finance minister P. Chidambaram had yesterday urged Congress workers to fight on their own.

“If there is no alliance, we will field candidates in all constituencies,” he had told booth committee workers in his constituency, Sivaganga.

The DMK has fielded only eight of its 18 sitting members and largely focused on new faces, including two women. One of those re-nominated is former Union minister T.R. Baalu, who has moved from Sriperumbudur to Thanjavur.

He displaces former minister of state Palanimanickam, whose supporters threw stones at Baalu’s home near Thanjavur today.

An angry Alagiri, now suspended from the party, too indicated he might consider floating a new party after the elections but this is being seen as an empty threat. Alagiri, a former Union minister, had earlier said he had not planned to contest again from his Madurai seat.

After CPM boss Prakash Karat ruled out joining the front yesterday, the DMK had asked the CPI to convey its decision by this morning before it released its list. But the CPI’s state committee meeting ended inclusively today.

“The overwhelming feeling in the CPI is to go with the DMK but the CPM’s decision is holding us back,” a CPI leader said. “We’ll consult our national leadership before taking a call. We don’t want to break ranks with the CPM.”

The CPI has been winning at least one Lok Sabha seat from Tamil Nadu, which it needs to do to hold on to its status as a national party. If it contests this general election only in the CPM’s company, its chances could take a hit.