Mamata Banerjee's out, says she'll live like a tigress; UPA says it's safe on numbers

Mamata Banerjee's out, says she'll live like a tigress; UPA says it's safe on numbers
New Delhi:  The divorce is final and the UPA is a minority government. The President of India has accepted a letter, signed by the Trinamool Congress' Mukul Roy, withdrawing support from the government. As he emerged from Rashtrapati Bhawan, Mr Roy said his party did not want a trust vote to prove the Government's majority, but wanted a vote in Parliament on the issue of Foreign Direct Investment in retail, the reason for Mamata Banerjee's exit from the UPA.

Mamata Banerjee's six ministers hand-delivered their resignation letters this evening to the PM, before setting out to meet the President and formally ending their party's partnership with the Congress-led government. Around the time that her ministers were meeting President Pranab Mukherjee, Ms Banerjee said at an event in Gaighata, West Bengal, "I am not afraid of anyone. As long as I live, I'll live like a tigress."

The West Bengal Chief Minister also calmly announced schemes for her state to show that for her, it was business as usual. "What will foreign companies do? They will first give cheap goods and later hike prices," she said of the government's decision to allow FDI in multi-brand retail.

Allowing FDI in retail is an executive decision and does not need the approval of Parliament. But like the Trinamool today, even the Left and the BJP have argued that it is a move that most parties oppose and also that Pranab Mukherjee as Finance Minister had assured Parliament last year that the reform would not be implemented without building consensus among parties. So they say, and Mukul Roy today insisted, the government now needs to get a "sense of the House."    

Ms Banerjee has attacked the UPA for notifying its FDI policies. On Facebook last night, she posted "Is it ethical, moral and democratic for a minority government to issue government order forcibly and hurriedly when massive protests against it are taking place across the country?"

In Delhi, the Trinamool ministers said they met the PM for two or three minutes and explained to him why they had to quit. The PM reportedly thanked them for services rendered and said he was sad at their quitting. They then drove a few kilometers to Rashtrapati Bhawan and handed over the letter to the President to withdraw support. The letter says, "Keeping in view the present circumstances and the anti-people decisions taken by the Central Government, AITC (All India Trinamool Congress) has unanimously decided to withdraw its support from the UPA-II Government with immediate effect."

The government is not in any imminent danger after the exit of Ms Banerjee and her 19 Lok Sabha MPs, as it has the external support of Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati, who have 43 MPs between them. Mr Yadav confirmed this morning that he will continue to prop up the UPA. Neither Mayawati nor he participate in the government.

Senior Congress ministers Salman Khurshid and Pawan Kumar Bansal have said with the support of Mr Yadav, there is no need for the government to face a trust vote.

In West Bengal, the Congress' six ministers in the Mamata Banerjee government will resign tomorrow. This will complete the severing of ties between the Trinamool Congress and the Congress.

Congress ministers had begun to skip cabinet meetings ever since Ms Banerjee announced that she was pulling out of the UPA government at the Centre. The Trinamool-Congress relationship in West Bengal has not been an easy one and was so far held together tenuously only by the tie-up at the Centre. The two parties have clashed incessantly in West Bengal going public with attacks on each other.

In her state, Mamata Banerjee has majority on her own with 184 seats and does not need the Congress' support. The Left only has 40 seats and the Congress with 60 will now become the principle opposition party in the state. With the Congress sitting in the opposition hereafter and contesting elections like the Panchayat polls on its own, some splitting of votes is expected. The Trinamool and Congress had a pre-poll alliance in West Bengal.

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