Trinamool quits UPA-II, government faces minority tag (Roundup)

September 21st, 2012 - 8:51 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 21 (IANS) All six Trinamool Congress ministers Friday resigned from the Manmohan Singh government and the party withdrew support to it over economic reforms, reducing the 40-month UPA-II to a working minority.

But Congress managers asserted that the United Progressive Alliance government faced no danger and could easily muster a majority in the 545-seat Lok Sabha despite the departure of the Trinamool’s 19 members.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said the UPA enjoyed the support of at least 310 MPs, including those of the Samajwadi Party as well as the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).

Samajwadi chief Mulayam Singh Yadav reiterated his support to the UPA, saying he wanted to keep “communal forces” at bay. The Samajwadi Party and BSP have 22 and 21 Lok Sabha MPs.

As announced Tuesday, Railway Minister Mukul Roy and five ministers of state called on Manmohan Singh at his residence Friday and tendered their resignations. The evening meeting barely lasted five minutes.

Trinamool leader Sudip Bandopadhyay, a minister of state in the UPA government, quoted the prime minister as saying he was “sad” the Trinamool was leaving.

The ministers then drove to Rashtrapati Bhavan and handed over to President Pranab Mukherjee a letter ending the party’s support to the UPA government.

The Rashtrapati Bhavan said the Trinamool delegation “submitted a letter communicating withdrawal of support to UPA-II with immediate effect”.

Friday’s resignations came three days after Trinamool leader and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said her party would desert the UPA over last week’s reforms aimed at kickstarting the economy.

These included a cap on cooking gas cylinders, foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail and a hike in diesel prices.

An unfazed government Thursday night issued a notification on FDI, a move that cheered stock markets Friday.

In a tit-for-tat, Congress ministers in West Bengal said they would quit the Mamata Banerjee government Saturday.

“All the Congress ministers will assemble before Mamata Banerjee and hand over their resignations to her,” Irrigation Minister and Congress leader Manas Bhunia told IANS in Kolkata.

At a public rally in North 24 Parganas in West Bengal, Banerjee thundered: “If you try to scare me, I will not be afraid. I will live like a tiger till my death.”

The BJP, which has sought a special parliament session, warned that the Manmohan Singh government was on the slide.

Although the government’s economic measures have drawn widespread criticism from political parties, the opposition appeared to be a divided lot.

The Samajwadi Party and BSP are in no mood to desert the UPA. The BJP doesn’t want to bring a no confidence motion against the government on its own. The Left too is wary of early elections.

Even the Trinamool is not eager for a confidence vote in parliament and is focussing on the issue of FDI, saying it will ruin India’s mammoth retail sector.

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