After conceding to several demands of West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on key policy issues, the UPA government finally brushed aside one of her key demands-on the minimum support price (MSP) of jute.
The cabinet committee on economic affairs on Thursday decided to hike the MSP for jute to Rs 2,200 per quintal for 2012-13 from the existing Rs 1,695 per quintal for 2011-12. But Banerjee had written to the PM demanding almost 120% rise to make it Rs 3,750 per quintal for 2012-13.
West Bengal is the largest jute producer and has the maximum jute factories in the country.
The rigidity in deciding the jute's support price came days after the Centre was forced to put on hold the National Counter-Terror Centre (NCTC) as Banerjee led a brigade of non-Congress CMs against it.
When the jute MSP came up for discussion in the Cabinet meeting, railway minister Dinesh Trivedi - the sole representative of the Trinamool Congress in the Cabinet - pointed out that his political boss has asked for a bigger hike.
According to a Cabinet colleague, "Dinesh made a valiant effort to make the Cabinet accept Banerjee's arguments. But he didn't succeed."
When Trivedi argued for the hike, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee said the proposal of Rs 2,200 as MSP is based on the Commission for Agriculture Costs and Prices' report.