West Bengal Chief Minister accuses the UPA government of economic mismanagement

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee reacted sharply to Wednesday's petrol price increase by accusing the UPA government of economic mismanagement.

Talking to journalists at the Secretariat here, she said she was worried about what was happening to the rupee, as well as the developments in the stock markets. “It is not important whether we stay in the government or not… toppling the government will bring another setback. We are not like the CPI(M) and others. We favour stability… we have a commitment.” She, however, ruled out withdrawal of the Trinamool Congress' support to the government.

“We are not pulling out of the government but that does not foreclose our options of protesting such a hike, or the manner in which it is being brought about — in a unilateral manner,” she said.

“Could they not have announced this in Parliament yesterday [Tuesday],” she asked. “In a coalition government, it is important to talk to your partners — there is neither any communication nor any co-ordination.”

Last time when the petrol price was increased, the Trinamool Congress threatened to consider its continuance in the UPA, if another increase was announced without its being consulted.

Pointing out that the government chose to increase fuel prices at a time when crude prices were decreasing in the international market, Ms. Banerjee said that from $125 a barrel in March, crude had dropped to $108. “Had they [the Centre] not said they will move fuel prices in tandem with international prices… then why have they increased prices” she asked. “This is an additional burden on people who are anyway reeling under price hikes… this government is exercising easy options.”

Ms. Banerjee said people were withdrawing from the stock markets as they were losing confidence. “This government has failed to instil confidence in people.” The economy had failed because of mismanagement. “It was important to seize greater control of the situation... There is need for proper planning.” Things would not have come to such a pass had proper control been exercised by the Centre. But she qualified her remark by pointing out that in West Bengal, which faces a similar situation, things could not be turned around (by her government), despite proper planning. This was because the Centre allowed a slide during the previous regime.

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