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No compromise on principles, ready for sacrifice, says Mamata Banerjee

CNN-IBN
Sep 18, 2012 at 05:36pm IST

New Delhi: Trinamool Congress supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday said that she would not "compromise on principles and on anti-poor decisions". Referring to her 72-hour deadline to the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance Government to rollback diesel price hike, remove the cap on subsidised LPG cylinders and disallow foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail, Mamata said that she would take the final decision after meeting her party MPs.

"We are clear. There can be no compromise on principles and on anti-poor decisions. I am ready for sacrifice for the sake of the poor of India. The final decision will be taken after consulting all Trinamool MPs," Mamata, whose deadline to the UPA ends on Tuesday evening, told CNN-IBN.

Even as the Congress tries for a suitable response to her threat, she said that her party's stand is clear and now it is for the government to act. "I am not in politics for a chair. We have made our stand clear, it is now for government to respond," said the Trinamool chief.

Meanwhile, Trinamool MP and Union Minister of State for Urban Development Saugata Roy said that his party was not against economic reforms, but was not in favour of FDI in multi-brand retail.

"FDI in retail will affect people in small retail business. Trinamool is not against reforms per say. I do not think these few steps will change the face of the Indian economy," said Roy.

Mamata not only wants the Rs 5 hike in diesel price to be withdrawn and the cap on subsidised LPG cylinders to go, she has also made it clear that FDI in multi-brand retail should not be allowed.

Sources say Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh are likely to speak to Mamata and convince her on need to raise diesel prices. The duo may agree to increase the cap on subsidised LPG cylinder to mollify the West Bengal Chief Minister.

The two decisions will also send out the signal that the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance Government has the political will to carry on with reforms, which will be to the liking of global rating agencies and markets.

But the options before Mamata are limited because even if she leaves the UPA, she is unlikely to go with the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA). Mamata has a large Muslim constituency in West Bengal and if she is seen as going allying with the BJP, then her political opponents will get a very potent issue to target her.

Even the proposed Third Front that Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav is trying to cobble together is a potential minefield as it will have her sworn enemy - Left Front.

Options before Mamata Banerjee

Scenario 1:

Mamata pulls out of UPA but remains equidistant from the NDA and Samajwadi Party led possible Third Front.

If the Trinamool Congress withdraws support than the UPA's strength in Lok Sabha comes down to 254 from 273.

UPA - TMC(19) = 254

But if the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) continue to support the government in spite of TMC walking out, UPA will have a strength of 279 in the Lok Sabha. UPA(273) - TMC(19) + BSP(21) + RJD(4) = 279

UPA could also look towards the Samajwadi Party, which has 22 MPs, for support. if the Samajwadi Party comes on board, then the UPA is assured of a very comfortable majority.

UPA(273) - TMC(19) + BSP(21) + RJD(4) + Samajwadi Party (22) = 301

Mulayam in return for his party's support wants a package for Uttar Pradesh of Rs 1 lakh crore and help in managing his Disproportionate Assets case.

On the other hand Mayawati wants help in dealing with Mulayam Singh Yadav and managing her Disproportionate Assets case.

Scenario 2:

Mamata remains in the UPA, gives the Centre an extended deadline citing reluctance to topple the government. In return the Centre will expedite processing her demand for a special package for West Bengal.

The Centre could also extend the number of subsidised LPG cylinders to 10

Scenario 3:

Mamata pulls out her ministers, quits UPA coordination committee, but continues to provide outside support.

In such a scenario the Centre will look to Mulayam or Mayawati for bailout, and will look to complete to the rest of the tenure without Mamata.

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