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HindustanTimes Tue,23 Sep 2014

Mamata toughens stance, Cong says UPA govt not in trouble

PTI  Kolkata, September 19, 2012
First Published: 14:59 IST(19/9/2012) | Last Updated: 20:29 IST(19/9/2012)

Positions hardened on rival sides with both the UPA government and Trinamool Congress showing no signs of resiling on their stands, a day after Mamata Banerjee announced her decision to withdraw support to the Congress-led coalition that appears to be confident about its numbers.

Samajwadi Party, a key outside supporter with 22 MPs, kept suspense over its strategy in case of a trial of strength in Lok Sabha in the wake of Trinamool Congress' decision to withdraw support.

Trinamool, the second largest constituent of UPA with 19 MPs, wants the government to totally withdraw the decision to allow FDI in retail, slash the Rs. 5 hike in diesel by Rs. 3 or Rs. 4 and raise the cap on supply of subsidised LPG to 24 cylinders a year.

If Trinamool goes ahead with its decision, UPA's strength will come down to 254, 19 short of majority in Lok Sabha, but with the support of outside allies like SP, BSP, JD (S) and RJD it still has the backing of over 300 MPs in a House of 545.

Grappling with a near crisis situation, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday had a meeting with Congress president Sonia Gandhi and other top party leaders and the message that came out of the deliberations appeared to be that the Centre was in no mood to roll back its major reforms decisions.

"I don't know why you guys are hung up on that one word rollback. These issues (decisions) were taken after the most careful consideration. They stand," finance minister P Chidambaram told reporters after a meeting of a GoM on Media.

Indicating that the government was not in a mood to go back on its decisions, he said if any of the Trinamool Ministers wanted to talked to them they will explain the circumstances that compelled the government to take decisions.

On her part, Banerjee stuck to her demands when she ruled out any compromise on issues and said the ministers would tender their resignation.

The West Bengal chief minister told reporters in Kolkata "I will stick to my position, come what may the (TMC) ministers will tender their resignations."

"Minimum 24 cylinders should be given to a family in a year. How many times you will keep raising the petroleum prices? FDI in retail should be withdrawn," she said as a condition for reconsidering her stand.

"I can't compromise on issues. It is related to common people. If political parties don't consider people's feelings, if I cheat the people, then I have no existence," Banerjee said.

As Congress looked to outside allies for ensuring its numbers, the Samajwadi Party appear to be acting pricey.

SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav gave no indication of what his strategy would be. He attacked the Congress over price rise.

He announced that his party parliamentary board will meet tomorrow (Thursday) to decide a strategy while only to be contradicted hours later by his brother and MP Ram Gopal Yadav who said there was no such meeting planned tomorrow (Thursday).

After the meeting of the GoM, information and broadcasting minister Ambika Soni said the government was not in trouble.

"The numbers are there, we have got support always. Whenever UPA I or II has taken hard decisions there were such situations. But we always had the numbers. Today also we will try to talk to everyone to bring everyone into confidence. There is no threat to the Government," she said.


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