DMK MPs to attend oath taking ceremony

DMK MPs to attend oath taking ceremony

Chennai: Even as Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) decided to stay out of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government for now, its parliamentary party leader TR Baalu on Friday said its MPs would attend the swearing-in of Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister.

A soft-spoken economist, 76-year-old Manmohan Singh will be sworn in by President Pratibha Patil around 6:30 pm on Friday.

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 on Thursday.

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Baalu had on Thursday 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."

Television news channel NDTV 24x7 reports a small cabinet will be sworn in on Friday evening.

However, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad is likely to visit Chennai on Saturday to hold talks with DMK chief M Karunanidhi in a bid to break the deadlock over allocation of ministerial berths.

Azad is being deputed as the Congress emissary to persuade the DMK chief after the party announced on Thursday that it will give outside support to the UPA government, Congress sources said.

Karunanidhi left for Chennai on Friday morning with his son MK Azhagiri but left instructions that DMK MPs must attend the swearing-in ceremony of Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister at Rashtrapati Bhavan this evening.

“All DMK MPs will attend the swearing-in ceremony," senior DMK leader T R Baalu said in Chennai.

Meanwhile, in the wake of DMK stand on providing outside support to UPA, Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Friday held fresh discussions with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over the vexed issue of portfolio allocation.

Gandhi drove down to Singh’s official Racecourse Road house along with her political secretary Ahmed Patel.

The meeting comes in the wake of key ally DMK, with 18 MPs, deciding to extend outside support to the UPA as its talks with the Congress on ministerial berths fell through.