Oils not well in the UPA family

Written by Nistula Hebbar | Nistula Hebbar | Updated: Nov 10 2011, 05:46am hrs
This is the 24th time, Opposition leaders tell us, that petrol prices have risen under the UPA. And in a weird kind of protocol, allies of the Congressthe DMK and the Trinamool Congresspretended it was all the Congresss fault. Nothing wrong with it, since the Congress has made a career out of disowning what their allies do with their ministries when in government, the 2G scam being a prime example. This is not a happy family, just one that is forced to share the family home.

And in quite the same way, Mamatadi, a fractious sibling of this joint family, threatened to dismantle the khandaani haveli, if she didnt get the room with the view. Quite simply, she decided that petrol prices were as good a reason as any to pressurise the government to give in on a lucrative financial package of R19,000 crore for West Bengal, which the Centre, for obvious reasons, was dithering on.

Didi accused the Centre of being insensitive, not just to the common man, but also to ministers from her party who attend Cabinet meetings only to be shushed into silence. Poor railway minister Dinesh Trivedi, the only one eligible to attend Cabinet meetings in didis brood, did his best to recover his aplomb after that.

On Tuesday evening, then, TMC MPs met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and, despite rumours spread about by the Opposition that he was a weak Prime Minister, found him to be quite unyielding on the matter. After staking his all on the Indo-US nuclear deal, the Prime Minister seems to have decided that the decontrol of fuel prices and subsidy encashment would be his new legacy issues in this government. Much like their bte noire, the Left parties in UPA, the TMC found the Prime Minister as flexible as an octogenarian arthritic on the matter.

Did they withdraw support Not really. Did they get their West Bengal package from the tight-fisted Centre Er no, that is still a work in progress. The evening ended with a photo-op of Didi storming a lowly police station in Kolkata to bail out two of her workers who had been arrested. Oh well, until the next hike then. Family quarrels are never mended, only postponed.

nistula.hebbar@expressindia.com