The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam on Tuesday said it skipped an Opposition meeting in New Delhi the previous day because the Congress had accused its chief MK Stalin of “violating coalition dharma”, PTI reported. The Sonia Gandhi-led party had convened the meeting.

The Congress and the DMK are long-time allies. On January 10, Tamil Nadu Congress President KS Alagiri said the DMK’s decision to not allot a fair number of posts in the state’s local bodies to the Congress went against “coalition dharma [duties]”. Later, he expressed regret for the remark. On Tuesday, DMK leader TR Baalu said the DMK did not attend the meeting because it felt that Alagiri’s remark was an “accusation” against Stalin, PTI reported. Baalu said Alagiri could have avoided making the statement.

Asked if Alagiri’s apology had made the relationship fine again, Baalu told reporters: “Time will tell whether it has returned to the old status or not, why are you concerned?”

However, Alagiri downplayed the matter and said there was no rift, The Hindu reported. He claimed the DMK and the Congress were firmly standing hand-in-hand. “Me and Mr Stalin are politically, ideologically and personally close friends,” he said. “There is no chance of the two parties separating...The alliance between the two parties is like a family problem. In a family, there will be problems and reconciliation. But there is no anger or disappointment.” Alagiri added that “a small issue like a panchayat union election” would not undermine the alliance.

On Monday too, Baalu had told The Hindu that Alagiri’s comment was behind the party’s decision to skip the meeting. He said: “What has happened to him [Alagiri] to issue an open statement? If he had any grievances, he could have met our leader and explained them to him. They have ridiculed us.”

In the meeting in New Delhi, seven major parties did not turn up – Trinamool Congress, DMK, Bahujan Samaj Party, Samajwadi Party, Telugu Desam Party, Shiv Sena and Aam Aadmi Party. The Shiv Sena has allied with the Congress only recently to form a government in Maharashtra.

At the end of the meeting, the 20 Opposition parties that turned up passed a resolution calling on the government to withdraw the Citizenship Amendment Act, and stop the National Register of Citizens and National Population Register projects.