The Congress is not alarmed at the differences that broke out in the open between Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee at Thursday’s Cabinet meeting.
Refusing to subscribe to the assumption that these differences were tearing the UPA apart, Mr. Singhvi said in response to questions here on Friday: “The Cabinet speaks with one voice. Within the Cabinet, there is a free and frank discussion, besides vigorous dissent. But when a decision is taken, it is the stand of the Government of India.”
Mr. Mukherjee is understood to have ticked off Ms. Banerjee for insisting on a populist budget without any fare increase. Matters came to a head when the proposal to change the subsidy regime for fertilizers was taken up for discussion.
The senior Minister apparently sought to expose Ms. Banerjee’s doublespeak, as she has been pushing for public-private participation in the Railways. While she wanted reform in her Ministry, she was opposing it in other areas of the government, he said. Furthermore, how could the government raise funds for her populist schemes without some reform measures?