Trinamool may consider pulling out its ministers

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Mamata Banerjee
New Delhi/Kolkata, Sep 16: Trinamool Congress, a major UPA constituent, may consider pulling out its ministers from the government in protest against allowing FDI in retail and diesel price hike, and giving it outside support.

The party led by Mamata Banerjee has set a 72-hour deadline on Friday for the government to rollback its decision on diesel, cutting supply of subsidised LPG cylinders, and FDI in multi-brand retail, failing which it threatened to intensify its agitation.

Party insiders said one serious option that could be considered is withdrawing its Cabinet Minister for Railways and six other Ministers of State at the Centre unless the government rolls back some of its decisions at least partially.

Banerjee is slated to consult party leaders and MPs on Tuesday to chalk out the next course of action. TMC sources said the way out could be that the Centre could effect a token cut on the Rs five per litre hike in diesel prices and give more subsidised LPG cylinders and not restrict them to six.

However, TMC, which has 19 MPs in Lok Sabha, is said to be strongly opposed to allowing FDI in multi-brand retailing.

In New Delhi, Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi told PTI, "Mamata Banerjee is our respected and valued ally. We never discuss our internal matters with the media, nor do we comment on our allies like that."

He was asked about indications from TMC that it might pull out its Ministers from the central government. Alvi said, "If there are any differences, we sort them out through discussion. We are confident. We always sort out issues through discussion."

Ahead of their countrywide agitation on Sep 20, the NDA and the Left parties also stepped up their offensive against the government's decisions which, they said, would badly hit the common man and the farmers.

Lashing out at the Government, BJP leader Balbir Punj said it has lost the faith of comman man and its isolation is complete as even its allies are not being able to live with it due to the "arrogance" of Congress.

Upping the ante, JD-U said that the government led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will have to go for this "dangerous venture".

Party President Sharad Yadav expressed confidence that Mamata Banerjee won't support FDI in retail under any circumstances.

Yadav, who is the NDA convener, indicated that the coordinated agitation by the Opposition on Sep 20, will strive to ensure that the government is ousted.

In Kolkata, Left parties today announced a 12-hour all-India general strike on Sep 20 coinciding with the agitation by other opposition parties and UPA supporter Samajwadi Party.

PTI

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