New Delhi: Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has upped the ante against the UPA government once again. She has warned the UPA with her deadline demanding a rollback in the diesel price hike and FDI in retail. "My 72-hour deadline stands after which we will take a hard decision," Mamata told CNN-IBN.
If Mamata decides to withdraw from the UPA, the government will be in trouble as far as the number game is concerned. Mamata's Trinamool Congress has 19 seats out of the 273 seats of the UPA in the Lok Sabha.
If Mamata withdraws, the UPA will need the support of Mulayam Singh-led Samajwadi Party. If Mulayam refuses to support the UPA, the government still has a chance of surviving with the help of the Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Lalu Prasad's Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD).
Mayawati has said she backs the UPA to keep communal forces away and will continue to give outside support to the UPA. The Samajwadi Party hasn't given any ultimatum. So with outside support of the SP and BSP, the government is comfortable.
Sources say the mood within the UPA is that TMC can be done away with as reforms are more important ahead of the 2014 General Elections. Government sources say that they have spoken to the TMC always and cannot roll back.
Options before Mamata Banerjee:
Mamata Banerjee has limited options as she cannot go with the NDA, considering she has a large Muslim constituency in her state of West Bengal. She also cannot join the Third Front as she cannot be seen supporting the Left. She also does not want to be seen toppling the government. Therefore, she is left with the following options.
- Withdraw Cabinet Ministers and give outside support to government
- Protest on the streets but stay in government
- Pull out from government, push for a snap poll
What the UPA can do:
Sources indicate that the UPA government may push a soft loan for West Bengal to calm Mamata down. A partial rollback may also calm Mamata down.
However, the UPA looks in no mood to go back on any decisions. The Congress seems to have decided that this is the only time to take risks before the 2014 General Elections.
The TMC deadline:
The Trinamool Congress had on Friday issued a 72-hour deadline for the government to roll back decisions on diesel, LPG and FDI. The TMC parliamentary party will meet on Tuesday to chart its next course of action. TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee will also be present in the meeting, say sources.
"TMC opposes any kind of FDI in retail sector," Railway Minister and TMC leader Mukul Roy said.
Sources say that the TMC may consider withdrawing from the government if the rollback is not announced by Tuesday.
Mukul Roy has called up called up Congress leader Ahmed Patel and conveyed the message.
TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh demanded review of the decision. "Otherwise, we will protest," he said.
In a major decision signalling the end of policy paralysis in the UPA government, the Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs (CCEA) on Thursday accepted 51 per cent foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail.