Chennai: Alliance talks in Tamil Nadu have been at a peak with both the two main adversaries, the AIADMK and DMK, well and truly in a serious huddle with other parties.

The backroom parleys in both the camps seem to have been deadlocked for the same reason: the PMK (Pattali Makkal Katchi).

The party of Dr Ramadoss and his son Dr Anbumani Ramadoss has been confabbing with both the alliance blocks and is keeping both the groups and the media guessing.

While the PMK has been promiscuous in that it has not been averse to aligning with any group, it is also a fact that be it the AIADMK or the DMK or the BJP or the Congress, none has been ready to rebuff it because the party holds a strong base in northern Tamil Nadu, and despite all the tall talk by the Dravidian parties on caste, the Vanniyar votes that the PMK has the potential to bring to the table are crucial for both of them.

The thing is the PMK has had no qualms about switching loyalties between elections. The bigger thing is none of the bigger parties has qualms about having a tie-up with a party that is propped by casteist forces.

In the last general election in the state, the PMK was part of the NDA — Anbumani Ramadoss was the sole winner out of the eight seats contested by it. In 2009 election, the PMK was in the Third Front camp (it lost all the six seats it contested, and in 2004, PMK was in the DPA (Democratic Party Alliance), a microcosm of the UPA in TN. It swept all the five seats it stood in then.

In the event, it is no surprise that the PMK is in the scheme of things at both the camps now, too.

Initially, it was speculated that the PMK had clinched an agreement with the NDA group, involving, among others, the AIADMK and the BJP, with a deal for contesting six LS seats, plus an RS nomination. The PMK is apparently angling for an RS seat for Sowmya Anbumani (the wife of former Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss.)

The AIADMK, with Edappadi Palanisamy and O Panneerselvam around, feels that it has covered the Gounder and Thevar bases fairly well. With the PMK, the Vanniyars angle would also be covered. The three castes have imperceptibly dominated the political discourse in the state for around three decades now.  

But amidst all this, has emerged the news that the DMK camp is also wooing the PMK, and the demand from the latter being the same six Lok Sabha seats and a Rajya Sabha seat tickets. The DMK, if sources are to be believed, feel inadequate in northern TN, which is where the PMK dominates.

The DMK will, however, find it a tough balance, with both the PMK and Thol Thirumavalavan’s Viduthalai Siruthaigal. The Vanniyar party has had historical frisson with the Dalit outfit. Previously they have come together. But now the talk is if the PMK is offered six seats, the VCK may up its demand to two seats for itself in the alliance.

But politically, the PMK and VCK are dominant in northern Tamil Nadu, and Pondicherry, too, where the Congress has some decent presence, too. So the thinking in the DMK camp is should they pack all their strengths in one part and leave the other parts vulnerable?

The PMK, for its part, is enjoying the attention from the AIADMK and the DMK. Doctor Ramadoss’s party has been part of both UPA and NDA governments at the Centre. It knows to spot a winning horse and run with it.

So, all eyes are on the PMK and its choice.