Mamata warns Congress on petrol price hike
Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday slammed the Centre for not consulting Trinamool Congress while taking crucial decisions affecting the common man and warned that she may opt out of the Congress-led UPA coalition government if things do not improve in future.
Addressing a press conference in the state capital, the Trinamool Congress leader lamented, “We are highly disappointed with the Congress’ policy of keeping our party out of important decisions.”
She warned that if the government fails to roll back the fuel price hike, she may take a decision on pulling her party out of the UPA coalition at the Centre.
However, she claimed that since the Prime Minister is not in the country a decision in this regard will be taken only after he returns.
Slamming the Centre for taking such decisions, which have an adverse affect on the common man, Mamata said, “My party won’t succumb to the UPA government’s pressure tactics as we have tolerated a lot in the past and adjusted.”
Claiming that the prices of petroleum products have been hiked as many as eleven times this year alone, Mamata said, “Any more economic pressure on the people won’t be accepted by our party now since we have been neglected by the Congress in the Union Cabinet.”
Coming down heavily on the Centre, Mamata said, “If she can run the government in West Bengal on her own, she can manage things without Congress at the Centre also, adding, “The price hike may not affect those in the Centre but it certainly affects our people and we are responsible for that.”
Mamata also stated that she had discussed the issue with Pranab Mukherjee and other senior ministers but nothing happened.
Her remarks came shortly after the emergency meeting of Trinamool Congress MPs called to discuss the UPA government’s decision to hike fuel prices ended with the party authorizing the Chief Minister to take a final call on the issue.
The West Bengal Chief Minister feels that the recurring hike in the price of petroleum products will put more pressure on the common man, who is already struggling to sustain his household budget in view of spiraling inflation.
With seven MPs, Mamata’s party is the second largest partner in the UPA government and if she decides to withdraw support, it is likely to disturb political equations at the centre.
Ahead of the meeting, Mamata had directed all party parliamentarians to attend it, which was held at the Trinamool Bhawan.
Mamata, had in past also, strongly protested against hike in the price of petro products, which leads to a price hike of all essential items.
"Food inflation, all-round inflation is at an all time high nationwide, the common people are suffering. Our leader is unhappy about the repeated hike in the price of petroleum products," a senior Trinamool parliamentarian who is close to Banerjee was quoted as saying.
A section of Trinamool leaders are of opinion that the UPA government never consults them before taking such decisions.
Meanwhile, allies like NCP and National Conference also expressed their discomfort with the petrol price hike and sought a reconsideration of the decision.
Even as allies mounted pressure, the oil marketing companies ruled out a roll back of their yesterday`s decision but said they would cut the rate if government gives them a directive.
Congress sources indicated that a "partial rollback" of the hike could happen in the next few days after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh`s return from G-20 summit in France.
A senior party leader, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the allies would be consulted after Prime Minister`s return.
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