Relations between the Congress and its ally Trinamool Congress soured further on Tuesday. A Congress minister offered to quit the Mamata Banerjee cabinet after his three portfolios were reduced to just one.
Manoj Chakraborty, a minister of states, not only announced that he would fax his resignation to party chief Sonia Gandhi, but publicly slammed the West Bengal chief minister.
Top Congress sources told HT that "patience is running out" in the party brass for Banerjee, who has been a major impediment in some of the government's policy initiatives.
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For the time being, the Congress will stick to its strategy of restraint in dealing the maverick ally and wait for the Uttar Pradesh election results. "As far as West Bengal is concerned, restraint and deep exchange of views and interaction is required," party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said.
The Congress expects to don the kingmaker's role in the post-poll scenario that will enable it to get new allies into the UPA fold. "If a new ally joins us, it will mean more stability and less dependence on Mamata," said a senior cabinet minister.
A top party leader also pointed out that Rahul Gandhi had always advocated strengthening the Congress organisation in West Bengal.
Singhvi also said, "Certainly coalition dharma does not permit unilateralism. All stakeholders should understand that it takes both the hands to clap. It is necessary for all to maintain restraint."
Chakraborty cried foul over Banerjee's "dictatorship". He said, "I talked to Pranab babu (Mukherjee). My party may have obligations, but I cannot take this insult anymore."
The two allies have lately been engaged in a bitter tussle over various issues such as renaming of Indira Bhavan, foreign direct investment in retail and pension bill.