TMC ups pressure on govt

Last Updated 06 November 2011, 20:02 IST

Trinamool Congress MPs are likely to meet Singh in New Delhi on November 8. West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee, who is upset over keeping her party in the dark over the government’s decision, has denounced the steep Rs 1.80 a litre hike in petrol price and threatened to pull out from the coalition.

Party MP Derek O’Brien tweeted on Sunday that the TMC leaders will hold a meeting in Delhi and meet the prime minister on Tuesday. The demand of the MPs will be for structured meetings of the UPA alliance partners.

The party wants monthly or quarterly meetings where its MPs or representatives will be briefed on the major decisions to be taken by the government.

Mamata is said to have already collected the resignations of all the Trinamool ministers in the UPA government which she may submit to the prime minister in case the talks fail. UPA sources, however, indicated that this was only a posturing and pressure tactic by the “temperamental” Mamata, who has openly stated that her party was not consulted before the hike was announced.

Government sources hit back saying the decision to decontrol petrol prices was taken in 2010 when Mamata was a member of the EGoM as a Union minister.

The government has already rejected the demand for roll back of petrol price hike with one of its senior ministers describing Mamata as a “compulsive populist.” The prime minister has even indicated further decontrol of prices.

The Congress leaders, however, refrained from commenting on the latest demand from its ally, whose 18 MPs comprise the second biggest regional block in the UPA after the DMK. The Trinamool has seven ministers at the Centre, including one of Cabinet rank — Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi.

However, as opposed to the Trinamool, the Nationalist Congress Party, another UPA ally, has supported the government decision while the DMK was not too strong in its protest against the price hike.

NCP chief Sharad Pawar endorsed the stand of the prime minister on the contentious issue. “Anyone who understands world politics will agree with the prime minister on the petrol hike. Economists who understand the world economy will agree with him,” Pawar said.

National Advisory Council (NAC) member N C Saxena defended the decision saying it will not have any major impact on inflation.

“The impact of hike in petrol prices on inflation will be marginal. Our transport system entirely depends on diesel. Petrol is consumed by 5 per cent of India's population. They are the people who are influential, they are vocal, but the number is very small,” Saxena of the Sonia Gandhi-led NAC said.

So far, petrol prices have been increased four times this year. They were last increased in September by Rs 3.14. The latest hike is of a minimum of Rs 1.82 per litre.

(Published 06 November 2011, 17:26 IST)

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