Mamata Banerjee keeps up fire, Congress stands firm

Sep 20 2012, 11:32 IST
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Mamata Banerjee. Reuters Mamata Banerjee. Reuters
SummaryUPA: Chidambaram says Centre reached out, TMC chief says ‘distorting facts’

Chances of the ruling Congress party and the TMC patching up dimmed Wednesday with the Congress Core Group deciding against giving in to TMC pressure to reverse last week’s reform announcements while Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee launched a new, scathing attack against her estranged ally.

The two sides also indulged in harsh finger-pointing over the lack of communication between them leading up to the TMC pulling out of the UPA on Tuesday. Congress leaders said they tried several times to speak to Banerjee and keep her informed about the reform announcements. The West Bengal Chief Minister hit back sharply saying no one got in touch with her or her party and accused the Congress of launching a disinformation campaign.

Congress sources said the party leadership was “fed up” with Banerjee’s “arm-twisting tactics” that had paralysed UPA-II and was determined not to give in to her any more. “With SP and BSP support, the government is stable. Besides, we have reasons to believe that in the event of a no-confidence motion in Parliament, even the Left will stay away from voting. Numbers are not an issue at all,” a senior Congress leader told The Indian Express.

Party sources also said the government is determined to push through more reforms in the Winter session of Parliament, which would become easier with the TMC out of government. “In the next six months, we will change public perception about UPA-II. We will then be prepared for any eventuality,” said another senior Congress leader.

While the government asserted that Banerjee did not respond to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s call four days back, the Congress said UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi had also unsuccessfully tried to speak to the TMC chief Tuesday night.

“We tried to speak to her four days ago. The Prime Minister tried to speak to her. We have left the message to her that she can speak. We have not heard anything,” Finance Minister P Chidambaram said in Delhi. The PM wanted to explain the rationale behind the government’s decisions on FDI in multi-brand retail, diesel price increase and the cap on subsidized LPG cylinders.

Banerjee, however, claimed in Kolkata that no one from Delhi had contacted her “either before or after” the decisions were taken. Railway minister Mukul Roy said he had not received any message from the Prime Minister’s Office to communicate with Banerjee. Union minister and TMC leader Saugata Roy said Banerjee had sent an SMS

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