Mamata Banerjee dares Congress to pull out of state govt

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Mamata Banerjee dares Congress to pull out of state govtKOLKATA/NEW DELHI: The Congress-Trinamool Congress alliance continued with its downward spiral on Saturday as West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee challenged her ally the UPA lead player to walk out of the state coalition in the state and accused it her ally of working in league with her Marxist rivals.

“The Congress and CPM are working together. If Congress decides to work with the CPM, the door is open… Trinamool Congress won’t be with it (Congress),” Banerjee said in Kolkata.

She said Trinamool had fought alone during the anti-land acquisition stir in Singur and Nandigram and can do so again. The Congress found it hard to swallow Banerjee’s taunt, but while party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi did assert that the party will not be intimidated by any one, – either in states or the Centre – his approach was conciliatory. Resisting the temptation to lash back, Congress said coalition frictions would be resolved “ultimately”.

Meanwhile, And while Banerjee was taking on the Congress, the BJP said NDA’s doors the National Democratic Alliance’s doors had not been shut on Mamata, an offer Congress said was a bid to fish in troubled waters. However, BJP’s comment added to the turbulence.

While a breakpoint may not be imminent, the wobble in ties has created uncertainties and suspicions that can lead to accidents. The Trinamool leader’s take-it-or-leave-it manner has left the Congress chafing and even more determined to reduce its dependence on its tempestuous ally once assembly polls in five states are out of the way.

In her latest broadside, Banerjee charged that the Congress had “trapped and tortured” members of Trinamool’s youth wing at a college and compared that act to CPM’s strong-arm tactics in the past. “This is how SFI established its hegemony,” she said.

And while Banerjee was taking on the Congress, the BJP said the National Democratic Alliance’s doors had not been shut on the Trinamool. Congress promptly decried the comment as BJP’s attempt to fish in troubled waters, but the BJP’s comment only added to the turbulence.

The war of words between the Congress and the Trinamool is escalating with efforts to douse tempers clearly not working. State Congress leaders are hitting out at Banerjee and this is leading to the mercurial leader landing counter punches on her ally leading to speculation that the alliance is fraying and beyond repair.

The “walk-out” invitation held out by Banerjee is part of a fierce turf war that Trinamool insiders say is unlikely to subside. The Trinamool chief is keen to establish unchallenged dominance in West Bengal and wants to squeeze Congress out of the frame as any sort of “third force”. Congress would have to accept a totally subservient situation in the Trinamool scheme of things.

There is a view in the Congress that it might be wiser not to rise to the Trinamool bait, till the assembly polls in five states are over after which the UPA lead player hopes to add an ally like Samajwadi Party with 22 MPs to its ranks in the Lok Sabha. This would cushion the Congress against the Trinamool’s tantrums and allow it some headroom on policy.

Banerjee’s aggression is also seen by some as premature as the state needs sustained assistance from the Centre to get over serious deficiencies in crucial governance areas. The state’s fiscal health is precarious and a helping hand is much needed to set right the decades of neglect the CM has herself spoken on when referring to the Left rule.

Yet, Banerjee is keen to ensure her writ runs in the state while the Centre too is vulnerable to her interventions. Her populist approach in opposing fuel hikes, foreign investment in multi-brand retail and the Teesta water agreement with Bangladesh present serious hurdles for UPA-II that is now keen to prepare for the 2014 parliamentary polls.

Efforts to argue that Banerjee must concentrate on governance issues as she will be held increasingly accountable once the Left’s tenure grows more distant have not made much of an impact with her so far. She remains in a combative mood with Marxists as well as her ally, seeking to emboss her seal on politics. Some feel that the winner-take-all approach does not sit at ease as political contexts, even in West Bengal, are not immune to change.

Banerjee blamed Congress for the trouble at a South Dinajpur college on Friday. “Let me tell you those who confined the college principal at Gangarampur in South Dinajpur, a day after the Raigunj incident, was led by a Congress councilor,” she said.

Leader of the Opposition and former CPM minister Surjya Kanta Mishra rubbished her allegation about an understanding with the Congress. “It is a baseless charge. The Congress and the Trinamool Congress keep blaming each other as CPM’s B team. Why isn’t the Trinamool Congress pulling out of the UPA government at the Centre? I want to ask the CM about the person who surrendered to the Raigunj court on Saturday. He was the Trinamool’s district working president,” said Mishra.

Banerjee said the Congress was trying to “build a mountain out of a molehill” because the Trinamool had opposed the fuel price hike, FDI in multi-brand retail and the Lokpal Bill. “You are aware that coal price was hiked by 25%. This will impact electricity tariff. I have been opposing it, but I can’t do it alone. The Trinamool Congress is in power with the people’s support in Bengal. The party can’t be belittled by conspiring with the CPM,” Banerjee said.

Taking a dig at Congress leaders protesting against the Trinamool, she said, “Is the Congress scared of our party’s decision to contest assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh and Manipur?”

Trinamool on Saturday held a rally at West Midnapore’s Netai, where nine people were killed last January allegedly by goons backed by the CPM. Speaking to the gathering over phone, Mamata alleged the Congress and the CPM were giving shelter to harmads (armed CPM cadres). “They are coming in the way of work when the Trinamool-led government is trying to push for development in the region,” she said.

News Gathered by India News

Posted by on Sunday, January 8th, 2012. Filed under Cities, Delhi NCR, India News, Kolkata. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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