Congress asks Mamata not to cross `Laxman rekha`

Mamata Banerjee yesterday in an SMS response said that she will try to attend the swearing-in ceremonies of Parkash Singh Badal and Akhilesh Yadav.

Last Updated: Mar 11, 2012, 15:32 PM IST

New Delhi: With Mamata Banerjee deciding to
attend the swearing-in of Punjab chief minister this week,
Congress on Sunday virtually told her not to cross the `Laxman
rekha` of `coalition dharma`, reminding the Trinamool chief
that any interaction with NDA allies "beyond the normal
boundaries of social courtesy, will become immoral".

"Social interactions with strangers by those in
partnerships is permissible, but obviously if things go beyond
the normal boundaries of social courtesy, it would become
immoral", party spokesman Abhishek Singhvi told reporters.

The Congress position on the ticklish matter was made
clear close on the heels of reports that Banerjee, whose party
is the second largest constituent of the UPA after Congress,
has agreed to attend the swearing-in ceremonies of Parkash
Singh Badal as Punjab Chief Minister in Chandigarh on March 14
and that of Akhilesh Yadav as UP Chief Minister in Lucknow the
next day.

While Badal`s party Shiromani Akali Dal is a part of the
BJP-led NDA, Samajwadi Party is an outside supporter of the
Congress at the Centre. The BJP is the part of the Badal
Government in Punjab with the SAD-BJP combine creating history
by retaining power by defeating the Congress, while the
Samajwadi Party had trounced the Congress to the fourth place
in UP polls despite Rahul Gandhi leading the campaign from the
front.

Singhvi`s remarks were significant as they came just a
day before the budget session of Parliament which appears to
be a tough affair for the Congress-led coalition with the
opposition parties attempting to make a common cause with
allies of the UPA as also supporting parties on the issue of
federalism.

In fact, the Trinamool Congress has emerged as the most troublesome ally of the Congress in recent months and has left no opportunity to create problems for the Centre on all major issues including petrol price hike and allowing FDI in retail.

Only yesterday, senior Congress leader Shakeel Ahmed, who is in-charge of party affairs in West Bengal, had met Mamata in Kolkata. He had tried to play down the invitation from the Akalis.

"This does not worry us. Inviting somebody for a function is not a political gesture. Politics involves human relationships. This should not be considered exclusively
political," Ahmed had said.

Mamata`s decision comes a day after the Trinamool Congress Parliamentary party decided to strike a combative note ahead of the Budget Session of Parliament. The party has decided take on the entre on issues like NCTC and Farakka on the floor of the house.

Fuelling concerns in the Congress` camp, regional leaders like Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi have been echoing Mamata`s criticism of the central government
for infringing upon the federal structure of the country. It has come at a time when speculation was rife that some regional leaders will form a "Fourth Front".

PTI