We will not compromise on price rise issue, says Trinamool chief

Trinamool Congress Members of Parliament will meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi on Tuesday and convey their desire to pull out of the United Progressive Alliance government in protest against the recent increase in petrol prices and their party — the second largest constituent of the ruling coalition — having allegedly been kept in the dark on such crucial issues.

(Trinamool Congress chairperson and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Monday that her party would not compromise on price rise. “We will not compromise on the price rise issue, which is hitting the common man most. Our battle will go on. Our party MPs will meet the Prime Minister tomorrow [Tuesday]…, and express our grievances and listen to what he says.” “There is also talk of [the government] increasing the diesel and LPG prices. The Trinamool Congress is a pro-people party. Already, people are overburdened with rising prices. We are not going to accept it,” she told PTI.)

Keen on not being seen as part of a government against which public disaffection may grow as a result of, among other issues, frequent increases in the prices of petroleum products, the Trinamool Congress may also keep open its option of supporting the government from outside if it does carry out its threat to pull out, it was learnt here on Monday.

Ms. Banerjee will take the final call, depending on the outcome of the meeting between Dr. Singh and the MPs.

The MPs, who took a unanimous decision at a meeting here on November 4 to pull out of the government, was advised by Ms. Banerjee to put their decision on hold till they met the Prime Minister.

Chief Whip of the Trinamool Congress Parliamentary Party in the Lok Sabha Sudip Bandopadhyay, who had sought on behalf of the party's 24 MPs, a meeting with the Prime Minister, was informed during the day that Dr. Singh agreed to meet them at his residence.

“We are not being taken into confidence, and there is no coordination between the allies of UPA II....This is not a good thing that is happening. Differences [between the allies] are widening,” Mr. Bandopadhyay told journalists.

Ms. Banerjee is expected to meet Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee at the Raj Bhavan here on Tuesday. Governor M.K. Narayanan will be present at the meeting that will discuss matters related to the State's fiscal situation, especially the bailout package that Ms. Banerjee has repeatedly sought from the Centre.

Ms. Banerjee met Dr. Singh in New Delhi on October 21 and sought a special plan package for the debt-ridden State. After the meeting, she pointed out that despite the Centre's promises of financial assistance, her government did not receive anything in the five months it had been in power.

Mr. Mukherjee subsequently said he would speak to the Prime Minister about Ms. Banerjee's appeal.

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