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Mukherjee roped in to end Congress-DMK Cabinet portfolio deadlock

New Delhi, May 21 (ANI): Senior Congress leader and former External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee has been asked to lead a Congress team of negotiators to resolve the party’s deadlock with the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) on allotment of cabinet berths.

Sources said that the DMK has demanded four cabinet berths and four Minister of State (MoS) berths for its members, while the Congress is willing to give just two cabinet berths and three MoS berths.

DMK Chief Karunanidhi, a key ally of the UPA, is demanding his share of the pie and asking for the at least seven berths for his party in the next government.

On Wednesday, Mukherjee said no decision has been  reached on cabinet berths and more discussions would have to be held.

Yesterday, Mukherjee was accompanied by Congress general secretary in-charge of Tamil Nadu Ghulam Nabi Azad and Ahmed Patel, Political Secretary to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, when he met Karunanidhi at Tamil Nadu Bhawan.

DMK leaders, including T R Baalu and Dayanidhi Maran, were also present during the meeting along with Karunanidhi’s daughter Kanimozhi.

The DMK has won 18 seats on its own and brought a total of 28 seats from Tamil Nadu and Puducherry in alliance with Congress.

Azhagiri, Maran, Kanimozhi and A Raja are said to be in the reckoning for cabinet berths while new entrant T K S Elangovan could be given a Minister of State slot. Helen Davidson, who won the Kanyakumari seat for the first time for DMK, is also being seen as a possible candidate for a Minister of State seat. DMK’s share this time is two more than in the dissolved 14th Lok Sabha.

Meanwhile, Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Mamata Banerjee, who won resoundingly in West Bengal, ending the Left Front’s rule in the state after 34 years, is to have another round of meetings with Congress leaders on Thursday. Sources said that Mamata is demanding at least five Cabinet berths.

Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister and National Conference patron Farooq Abdullah too had several rounds of talks with the Congress leadership on Wednesday night. (ANI)

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