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Congress, Trinamool call it quits

Completing the divorce formalities with the Trinamool Congress, the Congress yesterday withdrew support from West Bengal’s Mamata Banerjee government after its six ministers handed over their resignation to the chief minister in New Delhi the day before. All the Congress ministers two cabinet-rank and four ministers of state went in a group to Banerjee’s chamber at the state secretariat, Writers’ Buildings and handed over their resignation to the chief minister in the evening.

Mamata Banerjee
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata on September 19

“As per the directive of the party, the high command and the state Congress we have submitted our resignation to the chief minister,” said Congress leader Manas Bhunia, who held portfolios of micro, medium and small enterprises, textiles and irrigation and Waterways in the cabinet.

Abu Hena, holding charge of food processing and fisheries, was the other cabinet-rank minister from the Congress. Later, the ministers along with state Congress president Pradip Bhattacharya and legislative party leader Mohammad Sohrab, went to the Raj Bhavan and communicated to Governor MK Naryanan their decision to withdraw support from the Banerjee government.

The Trinamool formally pulled out of the United Progressive Alliance and its six union ministers gave their resignation letters to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday in protest against the hike in diesel prices, allowing FDI in multi-brand retail trade and putting a cap on subsidised cooking gas cylinders. The withdrawal will not have any impact on the Banerjee government as her party has a majority in the 294-seat state assembly.

“In spite of repeated help and sacrifices by the Congress, the Trinamool has always tried to upstage and humiliate us. By withdrawing support at this crucial juncture, they have only strengthened the hands of communal forces at the centre and the opportunistic Communists in the state,” said senior Congress leader and former minister Manas Bhunia. The Congress has 42 members, two more than the Communist Party of India-Marxist’s 40, and could stake claim for the post of leader of opposition. 

Resolution on FDI
The Trinamool Congress has announced it will table a resolution on foreign direct investment (FDI) in the next session of parliament. It also plans to organise a demonstration at Janta Mantar on September 26. Terming Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s address to the nation on the recent reform measures and fuel hike as ‘not inspiring’, former minister of state for urban development, Sougata Roy, “Such speeches are delivered on Independence Day.”  

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