BeyondHeadlines News Desk
New Delhi: DMK leaders MK Alagiri and Dayanidhi Maran met UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi late last night to come up with a resolution of the ongoing dispute over seat sharing for assembly election in Tamil Nadu, but the meeting seems to have been inconclusive as both sides could not reach mutual concensus.
The attempt to reconcile came after the political equivalent of a couples counselling session was held yesterday afternoon in Delhi with Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee meeting with senior DMK leader Dayanidhi Maran. Mukherjee also spoke to DMK chief M Karunanidhi on phone in Chennai to petition for a 24 hours reprieve. Karunanidhi’s daughter, Kanimozhi, yesterday said, “We can’t discuss every conversation in public. Negotiations are on and we will have a clearer picture tomorrow (Tuesday).”
Annoyed Sonia also made it clear that the DMK had violated coalition rules by threatening to pull out of the alliance and going public with their differences. Sources said that the Congress party was not willing to compromise on its demand for 63 seats.
The party has already said that it will not come under pressure from the DMK and that although it values its allies, there should be mutual respect. The sources have said that the Congress is not desperate to keep the alliance and is ready to face people.
Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee had yesterday asked that the six DMK union ministers to hold on to their resignations till March 9. DMK ministers reached Delhi on yesterday to submit their resignations to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Both parties are still trying to hammer out a compromise.
The DMK had on March 5 decided to pull out of the UPA government at the centre, withdraw its ministers from the Cabinet and said that the party would provide only issue-based support to the central government.
DMK has six ministers in the union cabinet. They include Textile Minister Dayanidhi Maran, Chemicals and Fertilizers Minister Alagiri, Union Minister of State Finance S Palanimanickam, Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment D Napoleon, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting S Jagath Rakshakan, Minister of State for Health S Gandhiselvan.
The split was first announced by the DMK on Saturday which apparently expected the Congress to respond with some serious TLC. The Congress instead chose to keep its distance, possibly emboldened by the fact that the Samajwadi Party has indicated it could replace the DMK in the coalition. On Sunday, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav claimed the UPA government will not fall – with his 22 MPs, that’s not an empty promise.
In the 543-seat Lok Sabha, the half-way mark is 272. The Congress has 207 seats. Allies like the DMK push the UPA’s tally to 274 – just two more than that critical half-way mark.
The DMK’s 18 seats push the government into a minority. But Mulayam’s 22 compensate nicely.