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Cong stunned, but hopeful

Mamata Banerjee’s sudden decision on Tuesday to withdraw support to the UPA stunned the Congress leadership as it had not anticipated such an “extreme step” from the Trinamool Congress chief.

delhi Updated: Sep 19, 2012 01:06 IST
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi

Mamata Banerjee’s sudden decision on Tuesday to withdraw support to the UPA stunned the Congress leadership as it had not anticipated such an “extreme step” from the Trinamool Congress chief.

Banerjee’s move to end her more than three-year-old courtship with the UPA caught the Congress “napping” as its leaders made no effort to persuade the maverick leader after she issued a 72-hour ultimatum on Friday to reverse the twin decisions on allowing FDI in retail and diesel price hike.

The Congress was confident that Banerjee would not rock the UPA boat and as an “extreme measure” would just pull out her ministers.

Though back-channel talks started soon after she set the deadline, the Centre was unwilling to rollback any of its pro-reform decisions — given that they were taken to dispel the perception of policy paralysis.

Congress leaders had repeatedly argued that Banerjee would not be seen siding with the BJP. They believed she would not antagonise the 30% Muslim population in West Bengal by taking a “huge risk” of going with “communal forces”.

However, the Congress has still not given up hope after Banerjee left a “window open” by saying her ministers will resign on Friday. “We still consider Trinamool a valuable ally… Mamataji has raised issues, which we will take up with the government,” general secretary Janardan Dwivedi said.

Sources said Gandhi will discuss the issue with the PM, after which the party is expected to reach out to Banerjee.