Crucial Congress core group meet begins at PM's residence

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New Delhi, Sep 19: A crucial Congress core group meeting began at the residence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here on Wednesday morning after the second-largest ally in the UPA government, the Trinamool Congress (TMC), decided to pull out of the coalition on Tuesday evening over decisions like price rise in diesel and LPG and allowing FDI in multi-brand retail and other key sectors.

Top Congress leaders like A K Antony, Ahmed Patel and P Chidambaram are set to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and party president Sonia Gandhi at the meeting after the TMC's pull-out reduced the government into a working minority.

The TMC chief Mamata Banerjee said new reform measures and fuel price hike will corner the common people and her party could not compromise with the people's interest. She also said that the Congress-led central government never showed any respect to her party under any circumstances. Banerjee had given the UPA government 72 hours time to reconsider its decision on Friday and announced that her six Union ministers will tender resignation on Friday.

The TMC has 19 MPs and with this pull-out, the UPA government is reduced to 254 members in a 545-member Parliament. The government will be dependent on other parties like the SP (22 MPs) and BSP (21 MPs), although the SP said it was non-committal to any cause. It also decided to join the nationwide strike on September 20 called against the government's decisions. That leaves the Congress only with the option of wooing the BSP led by Mayawati to save it from crumbling but party leaders said they would try to bring in other regional parties.

UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi has reportedly decided to raise Banerjee's objections with the government. The Prime Minister, however, said that the government should nor deviate from introducing the reforms.

OneIndia News

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