West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who was in the city on a short visit, to roll back the petrol price hike.
She reiterated her demand later when journalists sought her response to the Rs. 2.02 reduction in the petrol price, saying: “I am not happy, people will not be happy… they should reconsider their decision,” she said adding that the hike was unjustified given the fact that oil prices had not increased in the international market.
Amid reports of a frosty relationship between the Congress and its major ally in the United Progressive Alliance-II government, Ms. Banerjee did not participate in the day's first function, organised by the Bose Institute.
Sources at the Institute said that despite being invited personally by Union Science and Technology Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, she chose to send as her representative Finance Minister Amit Mitra. Governor M.K. Narayanan and two other senior State Ministers were also present.
She was not there at the airport to receive the Prime Minister either (although this is not a part of protocol) and much was being read into this.
However, Ms. Banerjee was engaged in conversation with Dr. Singh when they were seated side by side at the function to mark the centenary celebration of the Indian Science Congress Association (ISCA) at Calcutta University. She appeared intent on making her point, just as Dr. Singh seemed to be trying to explain to her a point with his usual calmness.
Reports said they had a short interaction while Dr. Singh was on his way out of the city and a gamut of issues were discussed.
The All India Trinamool Congress website said its leader had requested the Prime Minister “to think over a rollback of the petroleum price hike.”
Ms. Banerjee later told journalists at the Secretariat that during her discussions she also requested Dr. Singh to accord the Gangasagar Mela the status of a Kumbh Mela.
The Chief Minister was at Sagar Islands on Friday and she announced schemes for sprucing up the area, while improving its civic facilities.
Ms. Banerjee, in her speech delivered at Calcutta University, urged the Centre to set up a Science museum in the city to mark the centenary celebrations of the Indian Science Congress Association.