Mamata wants Rs 20,000 cr to douse petro fire?

Even though Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has virtually ruled out a rollback, Trinamool Congress (TMC) appears in no mood to let go of its ‘concern’ over fuel price hike.

Last Updated: Nov 07, 2011, 14:15 PM IST

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi/Kolkata: Even though Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has virtually ruled out a rollback, Trinamool Congress (TMC) appears in no mood to let go of its ‘concern’ over fuel price hike.

However, reports claimed on Monday that there still remains a way out – Centre should respond positively to West Bengal government’s demand for a special financial package to the tune of Rs 20,000 crore.

Although Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee does favour a package for the debt-ridden state but he says that the Centre can only give Rs 9,000 crore. But Mamata wants Centre to treat the state "differently" and has sought a debt restructuring plan.

Interestingly, tomorrow around the same time when TMC MPs would meet the PM in Delhi to press for a rollback of the recent hike in petrol price, Pranab Mukherjee would meet West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC boss Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata to discuss the financial package.

Besides the Chief Minister, Mukherjee would also meet West Bengal Governor MK Narayanan to discuss the state`s financial issues.

It remains to be seen whether Mukherjee’s position on the ‘package’ will have any bearing on the stand taken by the TMC on the issue of fuel price hike.

Party MPs who are part of the UPA-II government have reportedly sent their resignations to Mamata Banerjee. The party has 18 MPs in the Lok Sabha and another six in the Rajya Sabha. A pullout from the UPA government would mean the collapse of the government.

The Trinamool Congress parliamentary party has already authorised the party chief to take the decision in the matter after they decided on November 04 to pullout of the government if there was no rollback.

However, on the issue of petrol price hike, notwithstanding the political pressure, Manmohan Singh appears resolute in his decision to not rollback the prices.
"These are very sensitive areas and I have no hesitation in saying ultimately we must allow the markets to find their own level except for those commodities which are semi public goods...So, the direction of change is quite clear. We must move in the direction of decontrolling more and more prices,” he had told journalists at the sidelines of G20 Summit in Cannes.