No differences with DMK, says Congress, as ally discusses offer (Lead)

May 23rd, 2009 - 4:54 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi/Chennai, May 23 (IANS) The Congress said Saturday that there were no differences with its “pre-poll ally and important partner” DMK despite reports of a rift between the two over allocation of ministerial berths, though DMK chief M. Karunanidhi said around the same time that his party would discuss the matter “further”.
“This is pure speculation,” Ghulam Nabi Azad, union minister and Congress general secretary in charge of Tamil Nadu, told reporters in the national capital when asked about reported differences between Congress and the DMK.

“DMK is our pre-poll ally and it is definitely an important partner of the Congress in government formation,” he said, adding that the DMK was holding discussions with its party members. He was hopeful that they would join the government soon.

Azad didn’t speak on the offer made by the Congress party to mollify the DMK, which has 18 seats in the Lok Sabha.

Around noon on Saturday, Karunanidhi issued a statement in Chennai, saying that the party would hold further discussions before responding to the offer made by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The statement did not mention any time frame by which the decision would be taken.

According to sources in the All India Congress Committee (AICC), the DMK was seeking nine ministerial berths - five cabinet rank and four ministers of state (MoS). But the Congress, the sources said, was not ready to give more than three cabinet rank positions and four MoS posts.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, his eldest son M.K. Azhagiri and other senior DMK leaders like T.R. Baalu and Arcot Veeraswami had Friday returned from New Delhi to Chennai after inconclusive talks over ministerial berths to their party.

-Indo-Asian News Service


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