TC flays Centre on W Bengals fiscal troubles

Written by Nistula Hebbar | Nistula Hebbar | New Delhi | Updated: May 9 2012, 08:26am hrs
The government was still trying to recover from its shock over its key ally, Trinamool Congress, voting against the Medical Council of India (MCI) Bill in the Lok Sabha on Monday, when the party flayed the Centre on Tuesday for discriminating against it in fiscal matters. Trinamool MP in the Lok Sabha, Kalyan Banerjee, was scathing in his condemnation of the Centre's attitude while speaking on the Finance Bill in Parliament on Tuesday.

Demanding a moratorium on the repayment of the loans to the state, on the lines of a similar settlement offered to Punjab, he said, Our leader Mamata Banerjee has been repeatedly requesting (the moratorium). Please give it to us. You get the lion's share, states are facing financial problems, you take the benefit of taxes, you are not heeding to the states facing problems, he said.

He said grant of moratorium had precedents as it was done in the case of Punjab between 1983-84 and 1988-89 when it was treated as special term loan. Such a step was taken again for Punjab between 2002 and 2006.

Trinamool's attack was not unexpected after Mondays vote against the MCI Bill. However, what was shocking was the complete lack of connect between the government floor managers and the key ally of the UPA.

Trinamool had been agitating against the ad hoc extensions granted to the MCI board for sometime and had made speeches attacking the Bill in the Lok Sabha. UPA floor managers thought the Bill would not be put to division and when it was demanded by Biju Janata Dal (BJD) leader Tathagat Satpathy, the government found itself in a disarray. While Azad managed to get the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) to its corner, the TC vote shook the government.

Parliamentary affairs minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, it was reported, received a call thereafter from West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, saying the vote against the government was a mistake. Today, however, TC MPs declared that they would be speaking against the Bill but won't vote against the government in the Rajya Sabah where the Bill would be considered.

The strained relationship between the TC and the Congress on several key issues remains a black hole where several policy initiatives of the government have ended. Despite the government having reached more than its half way mark in its tenure, it still hasn't streamlined a mechanism through which to talk to its allies. The close shave on Monday should make it wiser it to the dangers of this communication breakdown.