UPA gets a jolt, TMC withdraws support to govt

Kolkata: Trinamool Congress, the second biggest constituent of the UPA, today dealt a major blow to the Manmohan Singh government when it decided to withdraw its support on the issue of petroleum price hike, FDI in retail and corruption.
“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 meeting of party MPs, top leaders and office bearers.
However, Banerjee added a caveat saying if the Centre rolls back the decision on FDI in multi-brand retail, raises the cap on supply of subsidised LPG to 12 cylinders and reduces diesel price hike from Rs.5 to Rs.3 or Rs.4, then the party would reconsider the decision to withdraw support.
She said the Central government was not not a one-party rule.  “The government depends on the support of others. But in Bengal, we have a majority of our own and we are not dependant on others,” she said.
Banerjee ruled out supporting the government from outside saying her decision was “not half-hearted”.
Widening the attack on Congress, she brought in issues like coal block allocation scam, black money and fertiliser price rise.
“The FDI decision was taken to suppress the coalgate issue,” the West Bengal Chief Minister said.
Accusing the Congress of indulging in “blackmail politics”, she said whenever it has trouble with any of its allies, it goes to the other.
“When it has problem with Mayawati, it goes to Mulayam. When it has problems with Mulayam, it goes to Nitish (Kumar of JD-U) and it is like that,” Banerjee said.
Referring to the FDI decision, she said there are 50 million people in unorganised retail sector. “Where will these people go? There will be disaster. It has not been sustainable even in the West.”
While accusing Congress of indulging in “blackmail” politics, the Trinamool chief said, “somebody has to bell the cat.”
She revealed that she had conveyed her opposition to FDI decisions directly to Congress President Sonia Gandhi but it did not work.
Banerjee also criticised Finance Minister P Chidambaram’s statement yesterday ruling out rollback on FDI.
She said after all these steps, the Congress would now allow even Pension Bill and vowed to oppose it tooth and nail in Parliament.
“If we don’t take a decision, they will even allow foreign players in pension sector. We can’t tolerate,” she said.
“We will not tolerate any anti-people decisions and we will oppose everything,” she said.
She said her party would not be responsible if the country was forced to go for a mid-term poll.
“This government can stay for three months or six months, I don’t know. They have lost the credibility. And if they cannot maintain friendship with us, then they cannot maintain friendship with anybody,” Banerjee said.
She also raked up the blackmoney issue, questioning why the government has not taken steps to bring it back.
While conceding that revenue maximisation and welfare maximisation were two different things, Subbarao told the JPC that if the government decides to allocate licences at a particular price, then it is a legitimate decision and does not involve loss.
Subbarao, who was Finance Secretary between April 30, 2007 and September 4, 2008, told the panel that he was in disagreement with the March 25, 2011 note of the Finance Ministry to the Prime Minister which suggested that Chidambaram could have insisted on auctioning the 2G spectrum instead of it being allowed to be allocated on first-come first-served basis.
Chidambaram said in a meeting with then Telecom Minister A Raja on January 30, 2008 that “he was for now not seeking to revisit the current regimes for entry fee or revenue share” of spectrum, the note said. .