Trinamool deadline ends, Sonia holds talks with Cong leaders
Congress President Sonia Gandhi held consultations with party leaders as the 72-hour deadline set by Trinamool Congress for rollback of diesel price hike, LPG subsidy cap and FDI in retail ended today amid indications a worst case situation could be a pull out of union ministers by the key ally.
As Finance Minister P Chidamabram ruled out a rollback, his ministerial colleague Ambika Soni expressed confidence that the Trinamool will not do anything to "jeopardise" the stability of the UPA. Congress also said "negotiations" were going on but did not elaborate.
On the eve of the Trinamool's Parliamentary meeting in Kolkata, party leader and Union Minister Sultan Ahmed listed three options, including withdrawal of support to the Manmohan Singh government.
"There could be pullout of the ministers from UPA, there could be withdrawal of support from the government or ministers will not attend office," Union minister of state for Tourism Sultan Ahmed told PTI in Kolkata.
Sonia had a strategy session with Union Ministers A K Antony, P Chidambaram, Sushilkumar Shinde, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Vayalar Ravi and her political secretary Ahmed Patel with no signs of worry in the Congress camp over fresh pressure mounted by the West Bengal Chief Minister.
"Negotiations are going on...we do believe that we will be able to have a working relationship. We remain optimistic," party spokesperson Renuka Chowdhary told reporters at the AICC briefing in Delhi..
Asked whether Congress is confident that all its allies including Trinamool will remain in UPA government in future as well, she said, "we will always be hopeful of all our allies' continuance. Our doors are never closed for dialogue".
Soni exuded confidence that the UPA will not do anything to rock the UPA boat. "After the parliamentary party meeting(of Trinamool), I am confident that they will not do anything that will jeopardise the UPA," she said.
The Trinamool has one cabinet minister, Mukul Roy and five ministers of state, Sudip Bandhopadhay, Sougata Roy, Sultan Ahmed, Sisir Adhikary and C M Jatua.
The party is the second largest constituent of the UPA with 19 MPs.