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Congress, DMK fail to resolve portfolio row

May 20, 2009 20:56 IST

Talks between the Congress and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, over the number of ministries the southern party will get in the new United Progressive Alliance government at the Centre, have been inconclusive.

Though senior Congress leaders Ahmad Patel, Gulam Nabi Azad and Pranab Mukherjee met Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi on Wednesday, the two sides could not agree on the portfolio distribution. According to sources, the DMK is asking for four cabinet berths and four ministries of state (one of which will be independent charge),  while the Congress is unrelenting in its position that the party should be given only two cabinet berths and four ministers of state.

There might be one more round of talks between the two parties either later on Wednesday night or early on Thursday morning.

Sources added that the Congress is firm on this number and it might be prepared to part ways with the long-time ally. On the other hand, the DMK needs a strong presence in the Centre to keep rival All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam at bay in the state.

The Tamil Nadu Congress unit, however, is said to be in favour of severing ties with the DMK if things come to such a pass. It is said that the party is preparing to align itself with actor-turned politician Vijayakanth's Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam in the state in the near future.

The DMK, which reportedly wanted three of the cabinet berths for members of Karunanidhi's family, has lost some its bargaining power due to the Congress's sweep of 206 seats in the recent Lok Sabha polls.

Congress legislators in the Tamil Nadu assembly have also demanded inclusion in the DMK government in the state, a demand which is expected to be rejected by the Dravidian party.

By our correspondents in New Delhi