Will she, won’t she? Will she, won’t she? Ever since the Centre announced an increase in diesel prices and other measures that included a cap on subsidised cooking gas cylinders, speculation was rife on what the Congress (I)’s mercurial ally Mamata Banerjee would do.
Today, after extended discussions with her party colleagues, the Trinamool Congress chief announced that she was pulling out of the UPA Government at the Centre and that her ministers would submit their resignations on Friday . The Trinamool has 19 MPs in the Lok Sabha and nine in the Rajya Sabha. With another ally DMK also throwing its weight behind the Opposition-sponsored bandh on September 20, it now remains to be seen what the Congress (I) will do to ensure it has the numbers in Parliament. Even if it were to muster support from the Samajwadi Party and arch rival BSP, the Congress (I) will be under increasing pressure as the Opposition clamour for a rollback of the measures is bound to get shriller.
For its part, the Congress (I) and the Government have maintained that there is no question of a rollback and that it will weather the political storm. Accusing the Manmohan Singh Government of announcing the measures primarily to divert attention from the alleged Rs 1.86-lakh crore coal block allocation scam, Mamata Banerjee said the decision to withdraw support was taken unanimously at the party’s three-hour long meeting this evening..
In a scathing attack, she accused the Congress leadership of following a policy of shuffling between its allies to cling on to power. “Go to a Mulayam, if there is a fight with a Mayawati. This is not a politics of principles,” she said.
Accusing the party of ill-treatment to the TMC, she said, “Someone had to bell the cat. We decided to do so”.
According to Mamata Banerjee, the Government decisions were taken unilaterally without consulting Trinamool — the second largest party in the alliance. “We were never accorded the respect we deserved. Our appeal that policy decisions be taken at the coordination committee meetings fell in deaf ears,” Chief Minister said. “Be warned, they will soon bring the Pension Bill,” she said adding that her party would step up its opposition to what it called such anti-people policies.
West Bengal scenario
Asked about the fate of Congress Ministers in the West Bengal Cabinet, she said that her party has the single largest majority and was not dependent on Congress to run the State Government.
“It is for the Congress to decide what they want to do. Let me tell you, we are a majority in Bengal,” Mamata Banerjee said.