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Just hours after a hike in rail fares was announced on Wednesday by Union Railways Minister, Pawan Kumar Bansal, Trinamool Congress supremo cum West Bengal Chief Minister, Mamata Bannerjee, has demanded a rollback of the price hike. Mamata who had withdrawn her support from the UPA in September 2012 after petrol prices were raised, has even threatened to support the government again, in case her demands are not met.
“This is an anti-people measure. The government should have taken our party into confidence before taking such a step. If it isn’t rolled back, our MPs will meet the Prime Minister on Friday to extend support to the government,” said an angry Didi.
Trinamool’s support will create an uncomfortable situation for the government by taking its numbers back to 273 from 254 in the House. This will reduce its dependence on Mayawati and Mulayam but will lead to the bigger head-ache of humoring a highly capricious Didi. The CBI, the government’s chief trouble-shooter for managing coalition politics, has categorically stated that it has no influence with Didi. “Tried my best to establish a working relationship with her but we have no common ground,” CBI chief, Ranjit Sinha, reportedly told 10, Janpath.
Mamata’s warning has set the alarm bells ringing within the government. Congress chief Sonia Gandhi called a meeting of important allies of the government, including leaders from the DMK, BSP, NDTV & the NCP. Speaking to the reporters later in the evening Finance Minister, P. Chidabaram made it clear that the government can reconsider its decision on price hike. ”Just like some compromises have to be made while managing coalitions, there are some to be made for avoiding Collision coalitions. One cannot move beyond the coalition dharma,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Left has warned the government against taking the price rise back. “We don’t want to get into the details of this decision. That Trinamool Congress has asked for a roll back itself is a good enough reason for us to oppose it,” said a senior CPI (M) leader. The BJP has demanded a special session of the Parliament on the issue.