Hope DMK will see reason and come back: PM

PM Manmohan Singh expressed hopes that DMK will "see reason" and join his govt in next few days.

New Delhi, May 22: Reaching out to DMK which is sulking over allocation of portfolios, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Friday hoped that the Tamil Nadu ally will "see reason" and reconsider its decision of not joining the government in the next few days by accepting the "reasonable" offer.
"We hope they will see reason," Singh told reporters after being sworn-in at the Rashtrapati Bhavan when asked whether there was any hitch in DMK joining the government.

"Whatever UPA offered (to DMK) is reasonable. They (DMK) are our respected colleagues. We still hope in the next few days they will reconsider their decision," he said.

DMK yesterday decided not to join the government, saying the Congress` formula on allocation of ministerial berths was not acceptable to it.

Asked how long it would take, Singh said "I keep hoping that without any loss of time, they (DMK) will come back after discussing" the issue in its working committee.

When queried whether there was any controversy about inclusion of DMK leader T R Baalu in the Cabinet, the Prime Minister replied in the negative and said "they are our
honoured colleagues. There is no question about having any reservation".

DMK, a key pre-poll ally of the Congress, decided to stay out of the government after their talks on allocation of portfolios got deadlocked.

Congress sources said DMK was seeking nine ministerial berths -- five Cabinet and four Ministers of State, which was not acceptable to Congress which was ready to give seven
berths -- three Cabinet and four Ministers of State.

There are also reports that DMK wanted Cabinet berths for Karunanidhi`s son M K Azhagiri, daughter Kanimozhi and grand nephew Dayanadhi Maran besides T R Baalu and A Raja apart from ministers of state berths for some others.

Congress sources said the party was ready to have status quo in terms of DMK`s representation in the Council of Ministers even though the Tamil Nadu party had lesser number of seats this time.

Congress maintains that it is not possible to give more than seven berths to DMK.

DMK supremo and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunandhi, who was camping here, returned to Chennai earlier today, saying DMK`s executive council will discuss and decide on the formula presented by Congress on ministerial allocation.

There was speculation that Ghulam Nabi Azad, Congress general secretary in-charge of Tamil Nadu, would travel to Chennai tomorrow to talk to Karunanidhi, which was rubbished by the senior Congress leader.

He, however, noted that he had held discussions with DMK leaders to resolve the matter.

Bureau Report
DMK MPs to attend swearing in of Singh: Baalu

Meanwhile, DMK’s Parliamentary Party leader T R Baalu today said its MPs would attend the swearing-in of Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister.

Asked about the formula for sharing ministerial berths, Baalu told reporters on his arrival here from New Delhi that he had nothing to add to what he had stated yesterday.

Baalu had yesterday said in Delhi that there was no formula in 2004 for allocation of ministerial portfolios. When asked whether DMK was worried that the talks with the Congress have failed, he said, "We are not at all worried. We are friends."

Baalu declined to entertain further questions.

There are various versions of what the DMK has demanded and what the Congress has agreed to give. Among them are that the party wanted cabinet berths for Karunanidhi`s son M K Azhagiri, daughter Kanimozhi and grand nephew Dayanadhi Maran besides T R Baalu and A Raja apart from ministers of state berths for some others.

Congress spokesman Janardhan Dwivedi had last night reacted that the DMK was asking for too much and they should be more reasonable.

Sources said the Prime Minister was said to be against inclusion of Baalu and Raja, a stand the DMK is said to be resisting.

Congress sources said that party president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had discussions till early hours this morning and decided to renegotiate with DMK.

Gandhi and Singh also made calls to DMK chief M 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 bargained hard for more berths in the Union council of ministers.

The DMK is learnt to have demanded portfolios like shipping, surface transport, communications and environment.

Sonia and Singh discussed names from both Congress and its pre-poll allies for cabinet berths and allocation of portfolios to the council of ministers.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is scheduled to be sworn in by President Pratibha Patil at Rashtrapati Bhawan at 6.30 pm today.

IANS with Bureau inputs


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