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Ministry berths: Congress-DMK talks fail

Last updated on: May 22, 2009 09:32 IST

The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam-Congress deadlock over ministerial berths showed no signs of resolution and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi is all set to leave for Chennai this morning.

If T R Balu expressed the party's unhappiness yesterday, then Karunanidhi himself  came out today and said, "The DMK has decided to extend only outside support. Asked why the sudden turnaround, the DMK leader said, "The Congress has offered us something unacceptable."

Then he said, "We will discuss the issue later in Chennai, where we will hold our party executive meet. It is not in my hands, our party leaders will chalk out a plan."

Most likely, sources indicate, only A Raja, the former IT-Communications Minister, will attend the Prime Minister's swearing-in ceremony, slated today evening.

Meanwhile, Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had discussions till early hours this
morning and decided to renegotiate with DMK, Congress sources said.

Sonia and Singh also made calls to Karunanidhi late last night in their last-ditch attempt to mollify the Dravidian leader.

During the meeting at PM's residence, the Congress president took stock of the situation after DMK, the third largest pre-poll ally of the ruling coalition, bargained hard for more berths in the Union council of ministers.

There are different versions on how many berths the DMK, which has 18 MPs is demanding, and how many the Congress
is willing to give. 

The Congress is opposed to the inclusion of T R Baalu and A Raja on grounds of performance and alleged corruption
which DMK has sought to contest.

WITH AGENCIES

Our Correspondent in New Delhi