A chapter in the history of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) coalition ended on Friday with the 19-member Trinamool Congress (TMC) snapping ties, protesting a clutch of economic decisions. But, the stability of the government stayed largely unaffected, with the Samajwadi Party offering itself as TMC’s replacement.
TMC ministers met the prime minister to hand him their resignations and gave President Pranab Mukherjee a letter withdrawing their support from the UPA government. In Kolkata, the Congress ministers in the TMC government would tender their resignations from the state Cabinet tomorrow. “We sought time to meet the chief minister today itself. But, she had some other appointments to keep, so we will resign tomorrow,” state Congress leader Manas Bhunia said. Bhunia is also a member of the state Cabinet in the capacity of a state minister in charge of irrigation, SME and textiles.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh addressed the nation, explaining the reasons for the recent increase in diesel price and outlining the Union government’s future plans.
Meanwhile, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav met reporters and made unambivalent statements about supporting the UPA from outside, sheltering the government from the TMC assault and, in numerical terms, making its position in the Lok Sabha unassailable.
Even as her party’s ministers were resigning from the Union government, West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee was holding public meetings in West Bengal to explain the pro-poor agenda of her government in the state. The party would hold a demonstration in Delhi on September 30.
“This is unethical and undemocratic on the part of the minority government to notify FDI in multi-brand retail. We will protest with all our strength against the anti-people moves of UPA. We are in the fight to protect the interests of the people. We will win. Others can compromise, we will fight like tigers,” Banerjee told reporters in Kolkata after TMC ministers gave their resignations to the prime minister in Delhi.
Predictably, the Samajwadi Party harked on its role as a bulwark to prevent “communal forces” from seizing power to justify the manner in which he abandoned Mamata Banerjee, jumped on the Left parties’ ship and, at the same time, pledged his support to UPA.
“Our support is clear. We will not let communal forces come to power. That is why I am supporting. I am not in UPA. But we are supporting so that communal forces do not go ahead,” he told reporters.
Asked if he was in favour of mid-term elections, Yadav shot back, saying: “Where is the question of mid-term polls? Ask Congress about this, what they want and whether they want this or (they want to) run the government.”
Yadav, when asked whether his party will join the central government, said it was “meaningless talk”.
When pointed out that a senior CPI(M) leader had suggested he would lead the Third Front, he said that front would be formed only after the next elections. He said the leader of such a front would be decided later.