India’s new prime minister struggled today to keep his coalition government together after a key allied party threatened to pull out in anger over its allocation of seats in the Cabinet.
The Dravida Munnethra Kazhagham party received three Cabinet posts and four junior minister slots but said it expected more. It ordered its ministers not to start work until the party gets the appointments it says it was promised.
However, party leader M Karunanidhi said his 16 MPs would still support the coalition in the 545 seat parliament even if they withdraw from the government.
“Whether we remain in the government or not depends on the decision Prime Minister Manmohan Singh takes,” he said. “But our decision will not affect the stability of the government.”
A spokesman for the Congress party, which leads the coalition, said the rift was not serious. “These are minor creases which need to be ironed out,” Abhishek Singhvi said.
India’s stock markets fell in early trading today and analysts said the markets would remain volatile until the government outlined an economic programme, a process that is expected to test the 12 party Congress coalition with divergent economic views.