Trinamool wants to dump UPA, awaits PM’s return

November 4th, 2011 - 8:15 pm ICT by IANS  

Mamata Banerjee Kolkata, Nov 4 (IANS) Giving a virtual ultimatum, the Trinamool Congress Friday threatened to quit the UPA against “repeated unilateral decisions” to raise fuel and coal prices but its leader Mamata Banerjee kept the decision pending and sought a meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after his return from Cannes.

The Trinamool, with 18 Lok Sabha members, is the second largest UPA constituent.

On a day of dramatic developments, the Trinamool parliamentary party expressed deep concern over the repeated petrol price hikes, saying it was “unacceptable” for the party to be kept in the dark before such moves were announced. The MPs later called on Banerjee.

“All the junior and senior MPs and central ministers have given in writing that things cannot go on like this. Not only petrol, prices of kerosene, diesel, petrol, cooking gas and even coal have gone up, overburdening the common man.

“Our MPs say if the government continues like this, then we can’t be partners. Our MPs favour quitting the government and also as alliance partner,” Banerjee told reporters.

However, the chief minister said she had decided to wait for a few days as the prime minister was abroad. He returns Saturday.

She said she spoke to union ministers Jairam Ramesh and Anand Sharma.

“I told Sharma if we decide to pull out, the government will fall. I do not want to take any such extreme decision when the prime minister is out of the country.

“Let the prime minister return. Then we will seek an appointment on Nov 8, 9 or 10. All central ministers and our MPS and my deputy leader (in state assembly Partha Chatterjee) will meet him and apprise him of our stand.”

What if the prime minister refuses to yield ground? Banerjee shot back: “You people are too concerned about the future. How can I answer ifs and buts. Who knows whether I will be alive tomorrow.”

Asked if she wanted a roll back of the latest petrol price hike, Banerjee shot back: “Why should I? And then they will raise other prices after a few days?”

Banerjee alleged her party was not being given any importance before vital government decisions were announced.

“In West Bengal, the Trinamool has two-thirds majority. But still we work together with the Congress. But at the centre we are not consulted.

“We have been demanding for over two years for a coordination or mechanism to discuss such things. But nobody listens to us.”

Banerjee reminded the Congress that it did not command a majority in the Lok Sabha on its own.

An angry Banerjee said Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi was silenced whenever he tried to raise an issue in cabinet meetings.

“We are stunned at the actions of the central government. Still we have gone along with them so long. But now we have reached the end of the tether.

“They are now saying cooking gas prices will become Rs.900 per cylinder. I tell them with folded hands to desist from doing that. Please take care of the people.”

She said her party had no intention of blackmailing the government.

“Even inside parliament our party has not been allotted any room. Again after Trivedi took charge he found his name removed from the nameplate of the room which is allotted to the railway minister.

“But we did not complain as we have a commitment to prop up the government for five years. But we cannot compromise when the common people are made to suffer.”

Trinamool sources said Banerjee was also upset at the central government not releasing the purse strings to bail out cash-strapped West Bengal.

Oil marketing companies Thursday raised petrol prices by Rs.1.80 per litre effective midnight, just over a month-and-a-half since the last hike of Rs.3.14 a litre on Sep 15.

The latest hike is the 11th since June 2010.

–Indo-Asian News
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