Feeling cornered and 'neglected', the largest ally of the Congress at the Centre, Mamata Banerjee has braced for confrontation on the former's choice of vice-president Hamid Ansari. Simultaneously, her party would hit the streets in Kolkata alleging apathy of th Centre in providing financial package to Bengal.
Railway minister and party general secretary Mukul Roy is expected to highlight the party strong stand in the UPA meeting on July 14. Sources told HT on Thursday, Roy telephoned Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's office and expressed the party's reservation on forward trading of commodities.
"We are their largest ally and friend. But they are speaking to CPI(M) even before talking to us. This is a clear display of neglect. They should first discuss the matter with us. Why will Congress dictate terms both on the President and vice president? There are other issues like forward trading which we strongly object," said a senior MP close to Mamata Banerjee.
Earlier Mamata Banerjee took a strong stand against Congress's choice of Pranab Mukherjee and instead pitted A P J Abdul Kalam, who later backed out.
On Wednesday evening Prime minister Manmohan Singh called up Mamata Banerjee who is on a tour of North Bengal and invited her to the UPA II meet. However, Mamata Banerjee chose to skip the meeting and has decided to send railway minister Mukul Roy instead.
Sources said Mamata Banerjee in his close quarters have expressed the fact that she will personally like to have former Bengal governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi or former Trinamool MP Krishna Bose as the vice president.
With P Chidambaram's visit to Kolkata on July 5 questioning the law and order scenario in Bengal has infuriated the chief minister. Moreover, Pranab Mukherjee's meeting with Left MPs and MLAs in the state Assembly also did not go well with the Trinamool chief.
Mamata Banrejee would not announce her decision (whether to abstain, or vote against) Pranab Mukherjee before July 17. A section of the party has already advised her to bargain with Congress, show her support for Pranab if Sonia budges on vice president and allows someone of Mamata's choice.
"If Mamata Banerjee's wishes are respected for the vice president and she be given the due respect, we can think positively about Pranab. But Congress must show its eagerness to remain our friends. We want to avoid support to NDA candidate P A Sangma unless forced," said a senior Trinamool leader.
Trinamool has already decided to hit the streets alleging step-motherly attitude of the center. Mamata Banerjee has already sent letters to the Prime Minister demanding release of due funds for developmental projects.
Already ministers of various departments including Panchayat and urban development have publicly spoken against center failing release money in proper time.