Temporary problems with allies will be overcome: PM (Second Lead)

January 7th, 2012 - 12:08 am ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, Jan 6 (IANS) As tensions escalated between the UPA and key alliance partner Trinamool Congress, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Friday tried to soothe the frayed ties, saying he was confident that “temporary problems” with allies would be overcome.

“We have our problems but I am confident that if we have the will and determination, we will overcome these temporary problems,” he said at a joint press interaction with Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar, who is on a 10-day visit to India.

He, however, did not name the Trinamool, which forms the second largest United Progressive Alliance (UPA) partner with 19 MPs.

He was asked whether the UPA government’s development agenda was being affected as its coalition partners appeared to create problems for them.

“Life would not be worth living if it were not beset with one problem or the other. We are a large country with great complexity and great diversity,” he said in a philosophic vein to reporters.

The Congress-Trinamool ties have remained uneasy since Banerjee joined the UPA after the 2009 Lok Sabha election.

She has bitterly opposed and blocked some of the key policies and bills of the UPA government, including the anti-corruption Lokpal bill.

Banerjee is also mainly responsible for the central government’s backtracking on the foreign direct investment plan in retail sector after she raised a red flag against the key reform measure.

She has vowed to keep opposing the Lokayukta provision in the Lokpal legislation, which she fears will intrude into the autonomy of the state.

The current provocation for the uneasy ties between the two partners was the West Bengal government’s proposal to rename a building named after late prime minister Indira Gandhi. Banerjee wants the Kolkata-based Indira Bhavan - where Indira Gandhi stayed in 1972 - to be named after rebel poet Kazi Nazrul Islam.

Ignoring the discontent among its state party unit, the Congress central leadership Friay seemed ready to offer an olive branch.

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi hoped that there could be a convergence of views with the Trinamool.

Agreeing that minor differences with Banerjee can be sorted out through in depth discussion, Singhvi said : “There have been differences with the TMC. But to say they can not be reconciled is not right.. there is nothing that cannot be sorted out through in depth talks. We hope for a convergence of views.”

In Kolkata, Shakeel Ahmed, Congress general secretary in charge of West Bengal, echoed the same sentiment: “We want these local issues to be sorted out between the Trinamool leadership and the state Congress leadership. It doesn’t look well that alliance partners are fighting each other just after six months of coming to power.”

“I have asked the state Congress leadership to sit with the Trinamool leadership and sort out the issues. I have also requested the Trinamool leadership to sit and solve the issues. Mamata Banerjee is our valued partner and she is a valued partner of UPA (United Progressive Alliance). We don’t want any bitterness, this is not good for any alliance,” he said.

The strain appeared when Trinamool boss and state Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee accused the central government and the Left of working together in attacking her partymen. Congress retaliated with its state chief Pradip Bhattacharya saying that if the West Bengal government goes ahead with the move to rename Indira Bhavan, they will intensify their stir.

Trinamool had handed the Left a humiliating defeat in Bengal last year’s elections.

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