DMK-Congress talks fail, Karunanidhi flies back to Chennai

May 22nd, 2009 - 12:24 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi/Chennai, May 22 (IANS) Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi left for Chennai Friday saying the DMK would give only outside support to the Congress-led government after talks on the distribution of ministerial berths failed, hours before the new government was to be sworn in at Rashtrapati Bhavan.
“We will give outside support to the central government as the formula given by Congress has to be discussed at the party’s executive council meeting,” DMK chief Karunanidhi told reporters at Delhi airport before leaving.

Some of the action shifted to Chennai with DMK’s executive council meeting scheduled in the city Friday. The Congress is expected to send a senior party leader to Chennai for another attempt to resolve the deadlock.

However, the Congress continued to be a “friend”, said senior leader T.R. Baalu who left the national capital to reach Chennai early in the morning after talks between the two failed Thursday night.

“Congress is a friend and DMK MPs will attend the swearing-in ceremony of the Manmohan Singh government in Delhi Friday evening,” he said at Chennai airport.

While the DMK appeared to have made up its mind, crisis managers within the Congress were making desperate efforts Friday morning to convince the DMK to join the Congress-led government.

Congress sources said the party would send its general secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad to Chennai to mollify the DMK, which has contributed 18 seats to the United Progressive Alliance’s (UPA) kitty of 322 - including outside support from the Samajwadi Party (SP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD).

The DMK is asking for seven ministerial berths - three cabinet level, two ministers of state (MoS) with independent charge and two other MoS. The Congress is willing to give two cabinet and five MoS berths, what it had in the earlier government.

The negotiations are still on, a Congress leader told IANS.

Congress spokesperson in Chennai Nedurumalli Janardhana Reddy said Thursday evening: “Whatever we proposed, they did not accept and wanted more. So they said they will support from outside, but it does not mean that dialogue with them is over. We are still discussing with them.”

Thursday night’s talks featured senior Congress leaders like Pranab Mukherjee and Ghulam Nabi Azad. Karunanidhi led the DMK team, assisted by Baalu, Arcot Veeraswamy, Dayanidhi Maran and others.

There had been a similar deadlock in 2004, when within 48 hours of the UPA ministry being sworn in, the DMK threatened to pull out its nominees on the ground that the promised portfolios were not allotted to its members.

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