Finance minister P Chidambaram on Monday ruled out the possibility of rolling back the recently announced reform measures even as key ally Trinamool Congress continued with its tough posturing.
Last week, the government allowed FDI in multi-brand retail, raised diesel prices by Rs 5 a litre and capped the number of subsidised LPG cylinders at six a year. TMC chief Mamata Banerjee immediately responded with a 72-hour deadline for withdrawing the decisions.
“As far as I know, we are not rolling back any of these decisions,” Chidambaram said. “A political government knows what is doable and what is not doable. Advisers can advise, but we have done what is doable.”
A senior TMC leader and a state minister Subrata Mukherjee called the FM’s stance political “hara-kiri”.
Although Banerjee did not respond to Chidambaram’s announcement on Tuesday, she postponed her finance minister Amit Mitra’s meeting with the FM on Tuesday till she took a final call on the coalition.
Senior Congress leaders in Delhi hinted that the only concession that might be offered to Banerjee was a marginal increase in the number of subsidised LPG cylinders — perhaps from six to eight or 10 — while Banerjee demanded 24 cylinders a year.
“Congress leaders have been talking to our party chief. But they are offering little. Apart from some small changes in the LPG quota, they are not giving us much,” confirmed a senior MP close to Banerjee.
Another associate of the TMC chief said in Kolkata: “We may decide (at the party meeting on Tuesday evening) to boycott the UPA coordination meetings or withdraw our ministers.”
While TMC sources ruled out a complete parting of ways with the Congress, Chidambaram promised more reform measures in the coming weeks.
"Our allies ... will understand and continue their support to the government,” he said while asked about the stiff opposition from the TMC and outside supporters Samajwadi Party and BSP.