Union home minister P Chidambaram would be reaching Chennai for talks with DMK leadership on Saturday evening after strains between the two parties over seat sharing threatened to escalate to a point of no return.
An angry DMK patriarch and Tamil Nadu chief minister spent better part of Friday evening and Saturday huddled with his senior party colleagues to take stock of the situation arising out of an escalated Congress demand for seats, after both the sides reached an informal understanding on 60 seats for the national party.
The sharp reaction from the DMK that it might even break the alliance if the Congress persisted with its "unfair" demand drew a reaction from the senior Congress leaders in Delhi that the problem would be sorted out and its alliance of seven years would continue.
Congress trouble shooter and union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee said in Delhi that the two parties had the political sagacity to sort out any problems. AICC incharge for Tamil Nadu, Ghulam Nabi Azad too hoped that talks with DMK that were continuing would bear fruit and a settlement would be reached amicably.
A senior DMK leader admitted strains in relations with the Congress but insisted talks were on to resolve the issue. Karunanidhi had late on Friday night termed the Congress demand for more seats as unfair, especially after the DMK hiked its offer from 53 to 60.
"Is it fair to demand 63 seats and also seats of their choice," questioned the chief minister who also issued a veiled threat to withdraw from the alliance.
Earlier in the morning DMK sources indicated that its senior leader TR Balu may visit Delhi to call on Congress leadership to convey his party's final view on the matter. The DMK's high-level meeting is scheduled to begin in about an hour to take a final decision whether to stay with the Congress or fight the Tamil Nadu assembly polls without it.
The Congress, on its part, is said to be upset with the DMK's generous allocation of seats to smaller allies.
The DMK has already allotted 31 to PMK, 10 to VCK, 7 to Kongunadu Munnetra Kazhagam, 3 to Indian Union Muslim League and one seat to another smaller party. If it gave away 63 to Congress, the DMK would be left with lesser number seats than it contested in 2006. In the last assembly elections the DMK contested in 132 and the Congress in 48 and PMK fought in 31. The Left parties together contested in 23 seats and since the Left has quit the alliance to team up with the AIADMK, these seats were to be distributed among the new allies, Congress and the DMK.