All lines to Kolkata are busy, please try later
On Wednesday it was about missed phone calls between the Trinamool Congress in Kolkata and the Congress in Delhi. The Trinamool Congress refused to back off from its decision to quit the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, while the Congress maintained that the coalition faced no danger with the pull-out of the Mamata Banerjee-led party.
Banerjee scotched the finance minister P Chidambaram’s claim that the Congress had tried to reach her on the issue of reforms to stop her threatened exit from the UPA. Banerjee said, ‘I must make it clear that there has been no effort from the Congress to reach me. A section of TV channels is spreading misinformation.’
A day after she announced the dramatic decision, the West Bengal chief minister launched a scathing attack on the Congress, which heads the UPA. ‘We will not budge from our stand no matter what. Our ministers will resign as stated,’ she told the media at the Writer’s Building in Kolkata. The Trinamool Congress ministers – there are six in all – are supposed to submit their resignations to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday afternoon.
With the Trinamool’s ministers set to resign Friday, the Congress was at its diplomatic best vis-a-vis Banerjee but insisted that the big-ticket reforms were here to stay. ‘These decisions were taken after the most careful consideration… They stand,’ Chidambaram said.
The Trinamool MP Kunal Ghosh demanded that Singh should quit. ‘Before accepting the resignation of our ministers, the PM should step down and go for a fresh mandate on whether the country [wants his] policies or not,’ he said.
The Trinamool Congress decision came a day ahead of a nationwide strike called by the opposition to protest against last week’s government reforms. On this issue, the Trinamool Congress and its arch-rival the Left are on the same side. The Left has asked the government to roll-back its decisions on FDI, diesel and cooking gas cylinders or quit. ‘FDI in multi-brand retail trade is opposed by the majority in Parliament,’ the Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Prakash Karat said in New Delhi.