New Delhi: Time, it seems, has run out for the Congress-Mamata Banerjee alliance, with neither side willing to give in. The Press Trust of India reports the Trinamool chief has asked for an appointment with President Pranab Mukherjee on Friday to give him a letter formally withdrawing support to the UPA government, which will make the UPA government a minority in Parliament. Her party's six ministers will also resign to the Prime Minister on Friday afternoon.
"Our ministers will submit their resignation letters (to the Prime Minister). We have also sought an appointment with the honourable President tomorrow, if he gives time," Ms Banerjee said in Kolkata.
An apparent feeler from a senior Trinamool leader for a possible formula to break the deadlock went unacknowledged. The government has so far refused to engage the Ms Banerjee's party publicly.
Ms Banerjee decision leave the UPA, came after the government's decision to allow foreign investment in retail, increase the price of diesel and cap the number of subsidised cooking gas cylinders for households. The government has refused a rollback of any of these, sure that the departure of the Trinamool will not dent its numbers, thanks to outside support from the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party. Till earlier today, though, it looked like there could be another twist to this convoluted political story.
Senior Trinamool leader, Saugata Roy, looked like having opened a window for reconciliation between Ms Banerjee and the government just a crack. He said that if the government took a "public position" on the demands placed by the TMC, then Ms Banerjee might show "some reconsideration". Till now, there has been no public statment by the government on this.
"Generally in a situation like this back channel may not yield any results. Public position taken by the government may lead to some reconsideration (as) Mamata Banerjee herself has said," Mr Roy said on Thursday morning. He had said the "scope for negotiation had diminished, but still the TMC supremo Mamta Banerjee said that she might consider if they roll back diesel prices and up the cap on LPG cylinders to 24 and (scrap) FDI altogether. That was the public posture taken by her. So any response from the government would have to be public." Mr Roy added that so far the response from the government has been "mostly negative". And it remained that way, with the government remaining cool to the apparent overture.
Behind Mr Roy holding out that glimmer of hope -- now fading quickly -- could be the fact that the decision to pull out of government was not a unanimous one. Sources in the party reveal that there was a good amount of dissent on the issue. Some of the ministers said that the protest should be limited to their resigning from government and not go all the way to a pullout. A party MP suggested that the party should restrict itself to protesting on the streets in Delhi against the union government. A Rajya Sabha MP of the party also questioned the wisdom of giving up the railway ministry after several projects had been announced in the state budget. But, the sources say, it appeared that Ms Banerjee had come to the meeting with her mind made up about pulling out of the UPA government.
(with inputs from Agencies)