Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee will not attend Tuesday's dinner to be hosted by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the occasion of the third anniversary of the United Progressive Alliance-II in New Delhi.
The West Bengal Chief Minister's decision comes at a time when there is growing uneasiness between her party and the Congress following the Centre's reticence on her demand for a special financial package for the State.
Railway Minister Mukul Roy is likely to represent the Trinamool, second largest constituent in the alliance, at the dinner.
Speaking in the Rajya Sabha last week, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said even though he represents the State, he could not favour it over the others. “But simply, I shall have to keep in mind that I represent West Bengal. I come from the State. Naturally, I will have an obligation to them. But as the federal Finance Minister, I have equal responsibility for all the 28 States.”
Ms. Banerjee's ire at Mr. Mukherjee was evident in a interview to Sagarika Ghose, deputy editor of CNN-IBN.
“Is he a son of Bengal? ... I don't think so,” she said to a question whether she would back Mr. Mukherjee for President as he is from the State.
While the Trinamool has not yet stated it will support the Congress candidate, Ms. Banerjee's pick include Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, the former West Bengal Governor, Gopalkrishna Gandhi, and the former President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.
Asked about ties between the two parties in the State, Ms. Banerjee said there were “no relations,” but she had good relations with the Congress Ministers in her government as well as with Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Dr. Singh.
Ms. Banerjee said while she had certain issues with the Congress, she would not leave the UPA unless she was asked to do so. “I want this government to continue for five years. But if the government says I do not want to, then what can I do as a small party. We are ready for anything.”