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Is it time for the Congress to sever ties with Mamata Banerjee?

UPA's ally, the Trinamool Congress is clearly emerging as a power centre. Be it the rail budget fare hike, NCTC, FDI in retail or petrol prices, Mamata-di is dictating terms to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Should the congress then sever ties with the TMC?

delhi Updated: Mar 15, 2012 02:32 IST
news,hindustan times,Dinesh Trivedi

The Trinamool Congress, with 25 MPs in Parliament (19 in Lok Sabha) and seven ministers, is emerging as a parallel power centre in the Union government. Be it the recent rail budget fiasco, NCTC, FDI in retail or the petrol price hike.

Is it then time that the Congress led central government sever ties with Mamata Banerjee and the Trinamool?

When Hindustan Times conducted an online poll, 'Is it time for Congress to part ways with Mamata Banerjee?,' an overwhelming 92% (848) responded with a yes, while a mere 6% (57) felt that it wasn't time yet. Two percent (22) felt it was difficult to take a call.

On Wednesday, the Union government seemed to be in a fix soon after minister for railways, Dinesh Trivedi announced in Parliament that there would be a two paise hike per kilometer in railway fares. A hike after eight years of populous, traveller-friendly railway budgets.

Behind this crisis in Parliament was, ironically, the minister's party itself - the Trinamool Congress. The reason: Party supremo Mamata Banerjee was not consulted about the fare hike and any such hike was against the party's 'DNA'.

"We will not not allow rail fares to be hiked," Banerjee told a public meeting in Nandigram, hours after Trivedi proposed the across-the-board hike in passenger fares to raise Rs.4,000 crore extra this financial year.

Mamata Banerjee then faxed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, asking that Trivedi be sacked as railway minister and Mukul Roy be his replacement. The Prime Minister agreed.

However, this has not been the only time the UPA's ally, with 25 MPs in Parliament, has played 'power games' with the government.

In the latter half of February this year, Mamata Banerjee opposed home minister P Chidambaram's anti terrorism proposal, National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC).

Soon to follow the West Bengal chief minister were a dozen other CMs from across the opposition. The TMC also tabled an amendment seeking deletion of the NCTC statement made by President Pratibha Patil in her address to Parliament before the commencement of the budget session.

On Tuesday night, senior Trinamool Congress leaders, including its ministers, skipped Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's dinner as the Mamata Banerjee-led party decided to organise a sit-in in the Parliament complex to demand a special financial package for West Bengal.

Last year, Mamata Banerjee opposed the Union governments proposal to allow FDI in retail. "The decision to oppose FDI in retail is not my personal decision, it is the decision of our party. Since the prime minister has made a request, I will discuss the issue again with leaders of our party, but there is little scope to reconsider our stand," she told reporters. The government gave in, with finance minister Pranab Mukherjee assuring her that no decision would be taken till a consensus is emerged.

Is it then time that the Congress led central government sever ties with Mamata Banerjee and the Trinamool? Or is there another plot emerging?

Poll: Total respondents till 9pm - 927

Related stories:

Replace Dinesh Trivedi with Mukul Roy: Mamata writes to PM

We reject Rail Budget, won't allow fare hike: Mamata

Dinner discord: Didi sends junior aide to PM’s table

Mamata slams Centre again for not helping Bengal

Trinamool Congress to dictate terms at the Centre

Mamata strikes again, no NCTC on March 1

No compromise on lokayukta, pension bill or FDI in retail

First Published: Mar 14, 2012 22:19 IST