Trinamool Congress is all set to break its ties with the UPA by withdrawing its ministers and the support tomorrow but the government remained unfazed over its stability even as outside ally Mulayam Singh Yadav sent mixed signals.
Mamata warns Congress not to distort facts
With the Centre not in a mood to yield to her demands for withdrawing the decisions on diesel, LPG cylinders and FDI, Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday said in Kolkata that her party's six ministers will submit their resignation to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday.
"We have already taken a collective decision. Our ministers will submit their resignation. Commitment is commitment. We have also sought an appointment with the honourable President tomorrow, if he gives time," she said in an apparent reference to plans to give a letter of withdrawal of support of 19 MPs to the government.
Trinamool has six ministers, including one of Cabinet rank, in the UPA government.
Banerjee said there is no room for negotiations on the issue of FDI in retail and ruled out going to Delhi for any talks with the Congress leadership.
After Trinamool's withdrawal of support, the UPA government's support in Lok Sabha will come down from 273 to 254 and the coalition will be heavily dependent on Samajwadi Party (22) and BSP (21) for its majority in the House.
For a simple majority, government needs the support of at least 273 MPs in a House of 545.
But the government remained unperturbed over any threat to its stability following Trinamool's decision.
"We had enough friends yesterday, we have enough friends today. So, I don't think why you should doubt our stability," finance minister P Chidambaram told reporters in Delhi.
Asked whether the government would look for new allies, he said," If we can acquire new friends, why would we not."
Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni said the government is stable as it has the support of 300 MPs in the Lok Sabha.
However, key outside supporter SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav shared the stage with Left and other parties to attack the government's "anti-people" policies on FDI in retail, diesel price hike and the cap on supply of subsidised LPG cylinders.
He kept open the option of floating a Third Front, saying there was no better example than today's "huge protests" to usher in a new political alternative.
Yadav, who unlike the Left leaders did not share the stage with BJP leaders in a nearby protest venue at the Jantar Mantar in the Capital, said SP was supporting the government only to keep communal forces at bay.
"I have said this several times that we are supporting the Government only to stop communal forces (from coming to power). But we will not tolerate price rise," he told reporters after courting arrest along with CPI-M General Secretary Prakash Karat, CPI leader A B Bardhan and former Prime Minister and JD(S) leader H D Deve Gowda.
He said if the UPA Government does not roll back its recent decisions immediately as per their demands "we will announce together a strategy to hold a big agitation."
Asked whether this would lead to emergence of a Third Front, he said: "What will be a bigger example than this?"
Earlier, addressing the protesters, he said: "The government has been coming out with policies after policies that affect people of this country. The biggest loser of these policies especially diesel price hike is farmers. Farmers have been put to lot of trouble."
Speaking separately to reporters, SP General Secretary and national spokesman Ram Gopal Yadav said any decision on continuance of support to the UPA will be taken after the agitation.
Reacting to Mulayam Singh Yadav's statement on Third Front, Karat said," Mulayam should give the lead both inside and outside Parliament."