Trinamool pulls out of UPA government
Trinamool Congress today dealt a severe blow to the UPA by deciding to withdraw its ministers from the Union government and its support but left open the doors for a possible rapprochement in the next three days.
The second biggest constituent of the UPA with 19 members in Lok Sabha sprang a surprise after a meeting of its MPs and top leaders with a caveat that the party could reconsider its stand if the government rolls back its decisions.
She wanted total withdrawal of the decision on FDI, raising the cap on subsidised LPG from six to 12 cylinders and reduction of diesel hike from Rs 5 by Rs 3 or Rs 4 for reconsideration of her decision. At one point Banerjee mentioned 24 cylinders but it was not clear whether she was making a demand for that number.
"We are withdrawing our support... Our ministers will go to Delhi, meet the Prime Minister and tender their resignations at 3 PM on Friday," TMC chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced after a three-hour meeting.
If the Trinamool Congress goes ahead with its decision to withdraw support, the UPA will be reduced to 251, 21 short of the majority mark of 272 in the 545-member Lok Sabha. However, with the support of outside allies--Samajwadi Party (22), BSP (21) and some others -- the government is still comfortably placed with the support of over 300 members.
Congress, however, was unfazed as it maintained that Trinamool Congress is "still a valuable ally" and said it will discuss with government the issues raised by Banerjee.
Sources said Congress President Sonia Gandhi is expected to take up the matter with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, amid indications that the cap on LPG cylinders could be raised from six to nine per year.
The virtual deadline of three days gives Congress and government some room to work out a compromise, observers felt. For this, the government may have to climb down on its stand of not rolling back its last week's decisions.
Significantly, reacting to the development, SP made it clear that it would not be influenced by Trinamool's decision and would take an "independent" view.