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 Saturday, Karunanidhi issued a statement in Chennai, saying that the party's high level committee 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.
Karunanidhi said a few television channels deliberately conducted false propaganda against some DMK ministers in the previous government and thanked the prime minister for clearing the issue and refuting the allegations Friday.
It was reported that the prime minister had serious reservations on having Baalu and Raja back in his new cabinet apart from offering lower number of ministerial berths.
The DMK Thursday declared it would offer outside support to the UPA government as it was not making any headway in the negotiations with the Congress. A DMK MP told IANS that the issue was on number and not about people.
According to sources in the Congress, 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.
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.