Whether the Trinamool Congress is headed for another confrontation with the Congress over the Vice-Presidential election is the question doing the rounds in political circles here ahead of Saturday’s meeting between the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) partners in New Delhi .
While the incumbent Vice President Hamid Ansari is the UPA’s nominee for the post, the Trinamool Congress leadership has been considering the name of former West Bengal Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi.
Conflicting choices could well belie hopes of any thawing in relations between the two parties that might have been raised with Trinamool chairperson Mamata Banerjee deciding to send Railway Minister Mukul Roy as her party’s representative to the UPA meeting following a call from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh late on Wednesday. Her decision to stay away from the meet is also significant.
The meeting, where issues other than that related to the Vice-Presidential elections are also likely to be discussed, is being held when relations between the Trinamool and the Congress are at a low ebb. The former is increasingly aware that its vote in the Presidential and Vice Presidential elections will have little consequence on the outcome.
Already snubbed by Pranab Mukherjee who recently remarked that he would talk to Ms. Banerjee to seek her support “as and when” she is ready, the Trinamool Congress finds itself isolated. It has not taken kindly to the Prime Minister sounding out Janata Dal (Secular) president H.D. Dewa Gowda and CPI (M) general secretary Prakash Karat on the matter of UPA’s nominee for Vice President before intimating Ms. Banerjee, whose party is the second largest constituent in the ruling coalition .
Though the Trinamool Congress has said it will announce its stand on the July 19 Presidential election three days before the election, certain remarks directed at Mr. Mukherjee by some of its senior leaders have been viewed by the State Congress as frustrated expressions of a party that has not had its way in the Presidential race.
It is against such a backdrop that the Trinamool could be bracing itself for another round of sparring with the Congress on the Vice Presidential election issue.
But this time around will matters be less acrimonious given the indications of some hardening in the stand of the Congress? On its part the Trinamool Congress would not like to upset the applecart at the Centre, Ms. Banerjee’s occasional outbursts notwithstanding. The party’s ministers at the Centre might be “mentally prepared” to resign, as one of them had said less than a month ago, but the it has no intention to topple the UPA government, he had added.