Trinamool Congress MPs abstain with eye on Bengal polls

  • IANS, New Delhi
  • Updated: Mar 09, 2010 19:54 IST

The Trinamool Congress, the second largest party in the ruling coalition, abstained from voting to the women's quota bill in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday but said it's support for the bill and the government continued.

The Trinamool Congress has two MPs in the Rajya Sabha- Minister of State for Shipping Mukul Roy and Swapan Sadhan Bose. The party, which has 19 MPs in Lok Sabha, is the second largest constituent in the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA).

Party leader Mamata Banerjee said her party is "upset" as the Congress failed to convene an all-party meeting over the bill and sought to "bulldoze" it through Parliament. But the real reason was that it had one eye on the West Bengal assembly elections next year and did not wish to antagonise Muslims for whom a quota - along with for Dalits and other backward castes - was sought by anti-bill votaries.

Party sources said Mamata Banerjee had urged Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Monday to convene all party meeting to evolve a consensus on the issue after both the houses of Parliament witnessed unruly protests by parties opposing the bill.

"We were not consulted," senior party leader and Minister of State for Health Dinesh Trivedi said. The party leaders, however, said there was no threat to the Congress-led central government.

"We are with the government. We will issue whip," he told reporters outside Parliament when asked whether the party would adopt similar step in the Lok Sabha when the bill comes in the house for consideration.

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