“What prompted my UPA friends to take decisions on all issues in a day or two?”
A day after Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee announced withdrawal of support to the UPA government, she refused to budge from her stand, saying the “decision has already been taken.”
“Why will people support this [the UPA] government? … What for?” she asked, pointing out that the Centre was trying to do away with all subsidies.
“What prompted my UPA friends to take decisions on all the issues in a day or two?” She was referring to the recent reforms announced by the Centre that were cause of her confrontation with the UPA government.
“Reforms should be directed at the common people instead of only a few in society,” Ms. Banerjee told journalists here on Wednesday.
“I cannot compromise on issues related to common people,” she added.
The Chief Minister asserted that it was only the people who mattered to her party and the party was ready to “sacrifice and suffer” for them.
“I cannot cheat the people … This is my commitment to the [election] manifesto,” she said.
Referring to the coordination committee set up by the UPA government, Ms. Banerjee said, “When did this coordination committee suddenly become an ordinance… It has vanished.”
“There is a Lakshman Rekha in democracy. We abide by it and hope that they will abide by it too,” Ms. Banerjee said.
She pointed out that despite an assurance by the former Finance Minister, Pranab Mukherjee that any decision to bring foreign direct investment in the retail sector would not be taken without consensus, the UPA government had taken all decisions “unilaterally.”
Reiterating her opposition to allow FDI in the multi-brand retail sector, she said the Manmohan Singh government could not forcefully implement and pass it in Parliament.
She also questioned the Centre’s decision to allow States to decide on the implementation of FDI. “When the Centre takes a decision, it is a policy decision for the entire country.”
“A new game has started; the Centre is saying that it will give subsidies to six [cooking gas] cylinders [annually to each household]. Certain Congress-ruled States are saying that they will increase it to eight or nine,” she said, adding these governments could afford to do so as there was no financial crisis in these States and could also expect funds from the Centre.
Ms. Banerjee said the Petroleum Ministry’s decision to restrict subsidy to six LPG cylinders was directed at “super humans” who would only be “dieting and not eating.” For any normal family, the requirement was 24 cylinders annually and it was her demand that subsidies be provided for all these cylinders.
‘Centre spreading disinformation’
Meanwhile, in a strong reaction to Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram’s remarks that attempts were made by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to contact her, before she announced her decision to pull out of the government, Ms. Banerjee accused the Congress leadership of spreading “confusion, disinformation and concocted information.”
“I totally disagree with the statement of the Union Finance Minister. It is concocted,” Ms. Banerjee wrote in her official page on Facebook.
Speaking to journalists at the State Secretariat, Ms. Banerjee made a plea to the Congress leadership “not to distort facts” and to “communicate reality.” Ms. Banerjee’s reasoning was that if the Centre had made any attempts to contact her, why did the media not get to know of it?
While Mr. Chidambaram had said the Congress had also spoken to Railway Minister Mukul Roy, who had been asked to pass on the message, Ms. Banerjee said this too was false and asked Mr. Roy himself to bear witness.
“As a Cabinet Minister, so often I have talked to the Prime Minister… I have never been contacted by the Prime Minister to communicate this issue to my party Chairperson,” Mr. Roy said.
Ms. Banerjee asserted that her party had informed United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi that it “cannot support this decision.”
“Please see that the alliance is not broken — I told [Ms. Gandhi] on the 14th,” she said.
The West Bengal Chief Minister claimed that her party is “very transparent” and that none could doubt her credentials.
Ms. Banerjee, who alleged that the Congress leadership “may control some [television] channels”, also launched a tirade against a “section of negligible channels” for “spreading misinformation and disinformation at the behest of certain vested interests.”