Didi Effect: Govt goes populist

  • HT Correspondents, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • |
  • Updated: Sep 20, 2012 01:34 IST
  • West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee with party leaders interacts with media at the end of party emergency meeting in Kolkata. (PTI Photo by Swapan ...

  • West Bengal chief minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee with minister of state Sudip Bandyopadhyay at a meeting of the TMC's parliamentary party in ...

  • West Bengal chief minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee with prominent leaders Mukul Roy, Saugata Roy, Sudip Bandyopadhyay, Somen Mitra, Sultan Ahmad and others ...

  • Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee at a press conference announcing withdrawal of support from UPA II goverment in Kolkata. (UNI)

  • Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee at a press conference in Kolkata. (UNI)

  • Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee at a press conference announcing withdrawal of support from UPA II goverment in Kolkata. (UNI)

  • Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee at a press conference announcing withdrawal of support from UPA II goverment in Kolkata. (UNI)

  • West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee interacts with media at the end of party emergency meeting in Kolkata. (PTI Photo by Swapan Mahapatra)

  • West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee with party leaders interacts with media at the end of party emergency meeting in Kolkata. (PTI Photo by Swapan ...

  • West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee interacts with media at the end of party emergency meeting in Kolkata. (PTI Photo by Swapan Mahapatra)

A day after the Trinamool Congress walked out on the UPA government, the Congress started preparing for life without Mamata Banerjee. For, chances of reconciliation between the two sides remained dim.

On Wednesday too, Banerjee stuck to her guns: “The (TMC) ministers will tender their resignations…I can’t compromise on issues.” But the Congress carefully avoided targeting Banerjee.

The UPA, however, immediately got cracking on populist measures and stepped up efforts to woo outside supporters Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) with sops.

The government is expected to announce a relief in diesel prices soon. “While there will be no rollback of diesel prices, a relief is being planned by cutting down central or state levies on diesel,” said a government source.

Congress chief Sonia Gandhi asked the Congress-ruled states to raise the cap on subsidised LPG cylinders from six to nine per year. Party sources told HT that the Cabinet was also likely to approve a 7% hike in the dearness allowance of central government employees on Friday.

After Banerjee’s exit, the UPA government has been reduced to minority in Parliament with only 254 members, and is depending on the support of the SP (22), BSP (21) and Rashtriya Janata Dal (4) for its survival. Congress sources even said if push comes to shove, the party was open to facing an early election.

Meanwhile, SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav has started acting tough. “What has the government given to people apart from inflation and corruption?”

Earlier in the day, Gandhi drove to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's 7, Race Course residence to chair an emergency meeting of the party core group, where it was decided that there would be no compromise on the decision to allow FDI in retail.

Minutes later, finance minister P Chidambaram and his other ministerial colleagues ruled out any rollback on FDI.

"We are not going to go back on the decision as we do not believe in the word rollback and this decision was taken after consultation with each and every state," commerce minister Anand Sharma said in Ahmedabad.

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