“Historic decision will be taken at tomorrow’s meeting. Our party chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is the last word for us. Whatever be the decision, it will be in favour of the common people,” Madan Mitra, state Transport Minister, said on Monday. However, he refused to say anything when asked if the party was mulling withdrawal of its ministers from the Union Cabinet.
“What all I can say is that a landmark decision will be taken,” Mitra said. When asked if they do not think that Trinamool will be marginalised if it withdraws support from the Centre, Mitra said: “Since the birth of our party we have gone through crucial junctures. We know how to combat crisis.”
In Delhi, sources said Banerjee is learnt to be convinced that stopping FDI in multi-brand retail in West Bengal will be difficult even though the Central policy leaves a scope for individual states to take a call on it. Her core team of leaders in the state has counselled her that the Centre’s bilateral trade promotion treaties with other countries make it as good as impossible for any state to not allow a foreign business establishment to set up shop there.
The sources said the TMC expected a call from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to its chief all of Monday but the call never came till late evening. Party leaders said they expected the UPA leaderhip to maintain this argument about states’ discretion.
Although the Congress said on Monday that it was confident of maintaining a “working relationship” with the TMC in the UPA, Mamata’s stance on the FDI is not likely to change.
On Monday, what angered the Trinamool further was a Union Petroleum Ministry advertisement asking state governments to withdraw tax and cess on diesel to make diesel cheaper.
Senior Trinamool leader and state Panchayat Minister Subrata Mukherjee termed the advertisement as a “politically motivated move” of the Centre. “The advertisement gives a hint about intervention of the Centre into federal structure. Let the Centre withdraw all taxes on petrol and diesel first,” Mukherjee said and added that such an advertisement is “bad in taste and a worst precedent”.