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‘Tigress’ Mamata’s roar brings out PM

Sticking to its guns, the Trinamool Congress pulled out all six of its ministers from the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government on Friday for the government pushing in foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail trade and other issues. The six Trinamool ministers met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and submitted their resignation. Within hours, he hit the TV to 'address the nation' in an effort to sell his government's unpopular decisions to people.

In the emotionless TV address, the prime minister listed the arguments in favour of foreign money and cutting subsidies that his colleagues had employed on all available platforms in the last few days. Not surprisingly, he mentioned that winning the confidence of foreign investors was important for his government and that 'money did not grow on trees' that he could keep on subsidising essential commodities.

After the Trinamool chief decided not to back the UPA government's policies, the government has been fighting for survival, even though Congress leaders have been constantly asserting that the party did not lead a 'minority' government as alleged by the opposition. On Friday, they were proved right when the Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav bailed out the government from the ongoing crisis. Speaking to media persons in the morning, Yadav announced, 'I will not allow communal forces to come to power. I will not withdraw support from the government.'

It took Yadav a few days to realise that the communal forces posed a danger to the country. And, these days he seems to have used well. First, he supported a strike called by the opposition on Thursday, and as soon as the government notified the FDI decision, he rubbed shoulders with the centre. Sources say that the Congress managers had long discussion with him to bring him to the present scenario where he could support the government. The arrangement between his party and the Congress may include settling legal tangles the Samajwadi Party has been embroiled in.

Earlier in the day, the prime minister expressed anguish at not being able to retain the Trinamool Congress in the UPA. He said that he was sad that the Trinamool ministers had resigned. These ministers later met President Pranab Mukherjee, formalising their withdrawal from the government. While they executed their plan in the national capital, their leader Banerjee, while addressing a rally in West Bengal, said, 'I am not scared of anyone. As long I live, I’ll live like a tigress.'

In an apparent reference to the six ministers quitting the UPA government, she said that she did not have lust for power. 'Mamata does not want positions. We want to remain with the people,' she said. She also accused the centre of not paying heed to the country-wide protests against FDI in retail.

She told a meeting in North 24 Parganas district, 'The decision on FDI was taken without consulting anyone. Notifying FDI by the minority government is undemocratic and unethical. This cannot be done by force.'
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