India Congress tries to woo back key ally

Updated: 2011-03-07 08:08

By Sanjeev Miglani (China Daily)

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NEW DELHI - India's embattled prime minister on Sunday tried to patch things up with a key ally that said it would quit his cabinet, aiming to avert another crisis for a government shaken by a raft of corruption scandals.

The southern Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham (DMK) party, which gave the Congress party-led coalition a slim majority in parliament, said on Saturday it was pulling out its ministers because of a dispute over seats to be contested in state assembly elections next month.

Analysts, however, said the move was more likely linked to a massive telecom graft scandal that has implicated the DMK and which has called into question Singh's ability to govern Asia's third-largest economy.

Congress Secretary-General Ghulam Nabi Azad was flying to the southern city of Chennai to meet leaders of the DMK to try and resolve the crisis, a party official said.

The government is not under immediate threat of collapse because the DMK ministers, who handle departments ranging from textiles to chemicals and fertilizers, have yet to officially tender their resignation and the party has said it would offer issue-based support.

But if the DMK were to quit, the government would become more vulnerable to pressures from other coalition partners.

The ministers' withdrawal from the cabinet could complicate the government's efforts to pass the 2011-2012 federal budget through parliament's current session. The government would fall if it loses the budget vote.



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