The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam on Friday inked a seat-sharing agreement with the Bharatiya Janata Party, allotting its ally 20 Assembly seats for the upcoming April 6 election in Tamil Nadu, The Hindu reported.

The Lok Sabha bye-election ticket for the Kanyakumari constituency was also given to the BJP, according to PTI. The party named senior leader and former Union minister Pon Radhakrishnan as its candidate for the April 6 bye-poll. The seat fell vacant after the death of Congress leader H Vasanthakumar, who succumbed to Covid-19.

The deal was signed by AIADMK Coordinator O Panneerselvam, party’s co-coordinator and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and BJP leaders CT Ravi and L Murugan.

“It has been decided that the AIADMK and the BJP will be part of an alliance to face the Assembly poll on April 6,” a statement by the alliance said. “Based on an agreement reached between the AIADMK and the BJP today [Friday], it has been decided to allot 20 seats to the BJP under the alliance led by the AIADMK.”

The pact was finalised after weeks of deliberations between the two parties, with Union Home Minister Amit Shah personally holding talks with Panneerselvam and Palaniswami. The agreement suffered delays as the BJP wanted to bargain for more seats in western Tamil Nadu, officials told News18.

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  2. In Tamil Nadu, DMK drives a hard bargain on seat sharing, allies in a fix

Earlier on Friday, Palaniswami, Panneerselvam and four others figured in the AIADMK’s first list of candidates for the Assembly election. While the chief minister will contest from the Edappadi constituency in his home district Salem, his deputy will stand from Bodinayakanur in Theni district, which is his native place.

State Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar will stand from the Bodinaickanur seat, and Law Minister CVe Shanmugam will contest from Villupuram. This will be the seventh time that Jayakumar is being fielded from Royapuram. He lost only in 1996. The AIADMK contender in Srivaikuntam constituency is SP Shanmuganathan, and in Nilakkottai (state Assembly constituency) is S Thenmozhi.

A senior office-bearer told The Hindu that the six nominees represented a “good mix of communities”, from Vellala Gounder, Mukkulathor, Meenavar, Vanniyar, Nadar and the Scheduled Caste. Another functionary said the remaining candidates would be announced by Tuesday.

The AIADMK released its first list of candidates two days after expelled party leader VK Sasikala abruptly announced that she was stepping away from politics. Sasikala, a close aide of former Chief Minister late J Jayalalithaa, was released from prison on January 27 after a four-year-long sentence in a corruption case.

The AIADMK’s main rival in the state, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, is expected to release its candidate list on March 10. The DMK is fighting the election in an alliance with the Congress, the two Communist parties, the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi, the Indian Union Muslim League and the Manithaneya Makkal Katchi.

While the party has signed a deal for six seats with the Communist Party of India, it is is yet to finalise a seat-sharing agreement with the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam. Talks with the Congress also remain inconclusive, according to The Hindu.

Meanwhile, Congress leader Karti Chidambaram has filed an application, seeking Priyanka Gandhi to contest from Kanyakumari. Vasanthakumar’s son Vijay Vasanth has also expressed his interest to fight from there, according to India Today.