UPA, Mamata set for a fresh crisis

The Congress-led UPA seems to be heading for a confrontation with key ally Trinamul Congress with the latter tabling an amendment to the motion of thanks on the President’s address to Parliament on the issue of setting up of a National Counter-Terrorism Centre.

Reacting sharply, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee pointed out that Trinamul was part of the Cabinet, which cleared the President’s speech.

“How can Trinamul move an amendment since they are part of the government and the Cabinet which cleared the President’s speech,” he said.

Mr Mukherjee also urged TMC MPs to withdraw the amendment, sources said. Mr Mukherjee indicated if the Trinamul moved the amendment, it would indicate it was not part of the government, sources said.

Trinamul chief and West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee skipped the dinner hosted by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday, sending Sreerampore MP Ratna De Nag to represent the party, a move viewed as a snub to the UPA and Congress leadership.

It was learnt Mr Mukherjee has also conveyed to the Trinamul leadership that the government could be destabilised and face a major crisis if amendments are moved by its allies.

Such amendments are mostly tabled by the Opposition. If an amendment is passed by the House, it would be considered a defeat for the government. But members can withdraw, or not press for the amendment at voting.

In a bid to exact its pound of flesh for extending support, Trinamul MPs will organise a sit-in in the Parliament complex to demand a special financial package for West Bengal. Both the CPI(M) and the
Samajwadi Party clearly indicated that the government would not be allowed to fall.

The SP on Tuesday formally announced its support to the UPA. TMC sources, however, said Ms Banerjee would go on attacking the Congress at the Centre as a 'strong Congress would endanger her political survival in West Bengal'.

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