It's a war that has been playing out in the political arena between two allies for quite some time. While the Trinamool Congress and its chief have been more livid in expressing her displeasure over different issues - removal of Railways Minister Dinesh Trivedi over passenger fare hike being the latest - the Congress too is not ready to back down.
The politically fraught situation has been exacerbated by reports that the Congress has been sending overtures to the Samajwadi Party in a bid to replace the Trinamool Congress in the ruling coalition at the Centre.
And in a statement that could deal another blow to Ms Banerjee, Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh has said that he has no objection to the Samajwadi Party joining the government. "I have no objection to their (the SP's) joining the government. While any decision on the SP joining the government will be taken at the government of India level, it will not affect our prospects in Uttar Pradesh. In 2014 also, we will be fighting on our own and not with the SP or any other party," he told the Indian Express
Speaking on the issue, newly-elected Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and SP general secretary Akhilesh Yadav said, "Netaji
(Mulayam Singh) will decide on relations with the Congress. He is travelling to Delhi and will decide on what kind of relations we will have with the Congress."
Samajwadi Party leader, Shahid Siddiqui, told NDTV last night that it's too early to decide on that. "I think there is not much of a difference at the Central level between the Congress and the Samajwadi Party. We were very clear and our leader Mulayam Singh had made it clear during the campaigning for UP polls that Samajwadi Party will continue to support the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre. It had nothing to do with electoral results in Uttar Pradesh. Because of our victory in UP polls, not only the Congress but everybody is looking to us and we have very good relations with Trinamool Congress, Mulayam Singh ji has great respect for Mamata di. And we won't do anything that would create differences between the two parties. So, our support is very much there, but I believe it's too early. Let's not come to conclusion at the moment," he said.
Meanwhile, the Trinamool chief seems to have softened her stance over Mr Trivedi's removal by lifting the deadline. "It is nothing to be hurried, nothing to be worried. The issue is being dealt with by the PM and Mamata," Trinamool leader Sudip Bandhopadhyay said yesterday.
The lifting of the deadline for Mr Trivedi's removal suggested that Ms Banerjee was not immune to reports that the Congress has been considering replacing her in the ruling coalition at the Centre with Mulayam Singh Yadav and his Samajwadi Party MPs.
Her softening of stance came amid reports that the Trinamool Congress chief was reportedly aware of the proposed increase in rates before the Railways Budget.
Sources have told NDTV that Ms Banerjee, the Chief Minister of West Bengal, and Gautam Sanyal, who is her Special Secretary were in the loop of the politically-sensitive decision. Not just that, leaders from the Opposition, sources say, were also asked for their views on the Budget before the hike in fares was finalised. Most leaders, cutting across party lines, admitted that an increase in fares was inevitable, sources add.
The revelation would come as a huge embarrassment for Ms Banerjee, who has been stinging in her criticism of Mr Trivedi and is adamant over his removal as the Railways Minister over the hike in fares. Her accusations of "betrayal" levelled against Mr Trivedi could also fall flat given the fact that she had reportedly been consulted over the hike - a bold move and the first in nine years that has put Mr Trivedi in the eye of a storm after he presented his maiden Railways Budget on Wednesday.
But the minister seems unfazed. As the government contemplates over Ms Banerjee's demand for his ouster, Mr Trivedi said, "I expect the PM to do what the PM should do". He has also refused to resign as Railways Minister till he receives orders in writing from his party chief, Ms Banerjee. "Till the time the matter is absolutely clear, I have suggested I do not want to take anything verbal. For me, Parliament has more sanctity than anything. So, I suggested let Mamata write me a letter so that there is no confusion... I will perform my duty as a Railway Minister," Mr Trivedi told reporters in New Delhi yesterday.
Acting on Ms Banerjee's behalf, party colleague Derek O'Brien, told NDTV that there is no need for any written communication to the Railways Minister. "No letter is going to him. Whatever communication, verbal or otherwise, is good enough. There is no further communication going from the Trinamool to the current Railways Minister," he said.
Sources in both the Congress and Ms Banerjee's party say that both sides are also close to resolving another large dispute. On Monday, in Parliament, the Prime Minister will address some of the concerns raised by Ms Banerjee to the new National Counter Terror Centre or NCTC. Ms Banerjee has said the NCTC's powers violate the autonomy of state governments and federalism. Her party moved amendments to the President's address to Parliament earlier this week, asking for a reference to the NCTC to be deleted. The President's address outlines the government's agenda; allies rarely ask for amendments. The BJP has moved similar amendments on the NCTC, and is likely to press for a vote. That could put Ms Banerjee's MPs in the awkward position of voting with the BJP and against the government. The PM, in his reply to the motion of thanks to the President's address on Monday, is expected to assuage Ms Banerjee's fears about the NCTC. That could help diffuse at least some of the tension between the political partners.