DMK to join government, likely to get seven berths (Second Lead)

May 24th, 2009 - 10:31 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi/Chennai, May 24 (IANS) The DMK Sunday decided to put behind its wrangling with the Congress and join the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government after settling for seven ministerial berths, including three of cabinet rank, sources said.
“The problem is resolved. We are joining (the UPA government),” Arcot Veeraswami, a senior DMK leader told IANS in Chennai.

“They are working out the finer details. It is only the DMK supremo M. Karunanidhi (Tamil Nadu chief minister) who can take a final decision on the names of ministers,” he added.

Congress sources in Delhi told IANS that the party and the DMK had come to a consensus on the ministerial berths and an official announcement would be made Monday.

Ghulam Nabi Azad, the Congress leader in charge of Tamil Nadu, had telephonic parleys with the DMK patriarch, they said. Azad was in Orissa Sunday and returns to New Delhi Monday.

According to the agreement reportedly worked out, the DMK will get three cabinet and four minister of state (MoS) berths.

The names doing rounds for ministers of cabinet rank with their portfolios are: A. Raja (chemicals and fertilisers), Karunanidhi’s son M.K. Azhagiri (textiles) and Dayanidhi Maran (communications and IT).

Kanimozhi, the chief minister’s daughter, is likely to be minister of state (independent charge) for women and child welfare.

The others in contention for the MoS posts are S. Gandhiselvan, A.K.S. Vijayan and Jagathrakshakan.

Earlier in the day, Karunanidhi met senior party leaders at his residence to decide on joining the UPA government.

The DMK had demanded nine ministerial berths - two more than what it had in the previous government, but finally decided to settle for seven, party sources told IANS.

The party’s move to join the government comes three days after its announcement Thursday night that it would support the UPA government from outside after its several rounds of talks on sharing of ministerial berths failed.

Manmohan Singh was sworn in as prime minister as well as 19 others as ministers on Friday. The portfolios of six ministers were announced Saturday.

A new round of ministers is expected to be sworn in this week, most probably Tuesday.

The DMK’s Arcot Veeraswami said the Congress wants to keep the infrastructure portfolios like shipping, surface transport and power.

However, the DMK is keen to complete the Sethu Samudram project and it feels that if a party leader is not given the shipping portfolio then the project to create a shipping canal in the Palk Strait will remain in limbo.

The Congress-led UPA commands 322 seats in the new Lok Sabha. The DMK, a major pre-poll ally, has 18 seats and has been bargaining hard for ministerial berths to party leaders, including members of the Karunanidhi family.

Meanwhile, National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan met Karunanidhi and briefed him on the situation in Sri Lanka and his talks with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Narayanan visited Sri Lanka May 20 after the killing of LTTE chief Velupillai Prabhakaran. He informed Karnuanidhi about the Sri Lankan government’s plan to resettle the civilians displaced during the war against the LTTE.

Narayanan had assured Sri Lanka of India’s cooperation in rebuilding the strife-torn area and the rehabilitation of the civilians.

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