Sonia meets PM; discusses DMK issue
Congress president Sonia Gandhi late tonight held discussions with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the wake of DMK deciding not to join the government and provide outside support.
Gandhi's political secretary Ahmed Patel was also present at the meeting at Prime Minister's residence that is believed to have discussed DMK's insistence on certain number of portfolios and ministries for its representatives.
The DMK, a major alliance partner of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance, after failing to wrest seven berths, including three cabinet, said it was prepared to support the government from outside. This was announced by DMK leader T.R. Baalu, who was transport minister in the outgoing cabinet, after daylong negotiations with top Congress leaders.
"After discussions with the prime minister, we have decided to support the Congress from outside. Our leader Karunanidhi (chief minister M. Karunanidhi) will go back to Chennai tomorrow (Friday) and will hold discussions with the party," he said.
Meanwhile, a DMK MP, privy to the talks, said the party MPs were returning to Chennai on Friday morning and wouldn't attend the swearing in of the new UPA government in the evening.
The DMK MP said the party wanted three cabinet berths, two minister of state (MoS) and two MoS with independent charge. However, the Congress was willing to give two cabinet and five MoS - what it had earlier.