Stung by the sudden shift of Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress on the lokpal bill, an irked Congress wants to sort out the differences with its maverick ally.
While it is cautiously treating Trinamool's objections differently from the amendments moved by the opposition parties on the bill, the party is contemplating ways to rein in its biggest partner.
Top Congress managers told HT that the party hopes a new political equation after the Uttar Pradesh assembly poll will help the Congress to balance its dependence on Trinamool. It also hopes to revive the FDI in retail policy and pass the pension fund bill after the UP polls. These two decisions had to be stalled after Banerjee’s objections.
The Congress brass is upset over the fact that even after addressing Banerjee's concerns through an amendment in Lok Sabha on Tuesday (that said "the provisions shall be applicable to the states which have given prior consent to this act") Banerjee didn't support the government.
Home minister P Chidambaram on Friday pointed out that the Trinamool lent its support in the Sense of the House motion adopted in the Lok Sabha in August and later in the cabinet meeting that cleared the redrafted lokpal bill.
"We thought the proviso (amendment) was adequate," Chidambaram said.
Top Congress leaders also pointed out that in prime minister's meeting with the allies before bringing the revised bill, Trinamool's Dinesh Trivedi extended "full support" to the government. In the parliamentary standing committee on law and justice that reviewed the original lokpal bill, Trinamool's representative Sukhendu Sekhar Roy didn't give any dissent note.
"Coalition equations are expected to change after the UP polls. In our assessment we will get at least 60 seats in UP and take a major role in forming the next government. It will drastically reduce our dependence on Trinamool", said a key Congress minister.
"What it (the Trinamool) did in Rajya Sabha, has irked even our top leaders", said a senior Congress minister.
What prompted Mamata’s decision
BJD’s Bhartruhari Mahtab speech during the lokpal debate in Lok Sabha seemed to have played a major role in Trinamool Congress chief Banerjee’s decision to seek amendments in the lokpal bill. After watching Mahtab’s arguments against the lokayukta provisions on TV, Banerjee quickly asked her partymen to contact the BJD MP and understand the issue.
Home minister P Chidambaram reportedly tried to allay her fears on Thursday but Banerjee didn’t relent. Trinamool even contacted a top opposition leader to draft its amendments properly.