New Delhi: The UPA government will explain the background behind its decisions to the Trinamool Congress which has decided to withdraw support to the coalition on the issue of diesel price hike and FDI in retail.

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Sources said after a meeting of the top Congress leadership at the residence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that the government would explain to Trinamool Congress ministers the circumstances under which these decisions were taken.
There was no indication as to what the government would do on the demands of Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee who has sought the total withdrawal of FDI in retail, the slashing of Rs 5 hike in diesel price by Rs 4 or Rs 3 and raise the cap on LPG cylinders from 6 to 12.

Ups and Downs of Trinamool-Congress relations

The two parties came together in 2009 ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, but then too there was a tussle over the number and nature of seats to the Congress. Banerjee won the battle. After the United Progressive Alliance's (UPA) victory, Banerjee took over as railway minister, while five of her colleagues were sworn in as ministers of state

Number Game

Relations again soured in the 2010 Kolkata civic polls as the Congress - unhappy with the number of seats given to it - fought alone, and suffered a humiliating defeat. The Trinamool won an overwhelming majority

Before the West Bengal assembly polls last year, there was again a prolonged stand-off over the number of seats for the Congress, but yet again its leadership blinked and the party got to fight only 65 seats in the 294-seat assembly

After the assembly polls, the two parties formed an alliance government in the state. Soon the troubles escalated, with the Congress ministers complaining of being kept in the dark about major decisions

Stand-off over Manoj Chakraborty
The first revolt came earlier this year, when Congress minister Manoj Chakraborty resigned calling Banerjee a ‘dictator’

The relations deteriorated with each passing day, with Banerjee even once asking the Congress ministers to "leave, if you want to"

Financial aid to West Bengal

Banerjee's battles with the Central Government continued, as the Trinamool sought a three year moratorium on interest repayments for loans to tide over the debt-ridden state's financial problems

Differences over Teesta Treaty

Trinamool also confronted the Congress over the Teesta treaty with Bangladesh and repeated petro price hikes

Last September, the UPA government suffered a major diplomatic embarrassment as Banerjee cancelled her trip to Dhaka along with the Prime Minister saying the Teesta treaty was against the interests of north Bengal

A red Prime Minister returned from Bangladesh without signing the pact. Later, Banerjee forced the central government to go back on its decision to allow 51 percent Foreign Direct Investment in retail

Stand-off over Dinesh Trivedi

There was another major stand-off after an angry Banerjee forced her party leader and Railway minister Dinesh Trivedi to resign after he raised train fares
Banerjee's long time associate Mukul Roy became minister and withdrew most of the hikes.

Presidential Election

The Congress finally checkmated her in the presidential elections in July. After opposing Congress nominee Pranab Mukherjee for days, and trying to put up her own candidates, Banerjee had to finally extend support to him.

Diesel Price Hike
The final act in the battle came last week when the suddenly emboldened UPA government raised diesel prices by Rs 5 a litre and cut down on the number of subsidised cylinders per household to six.

FDI issue

A day later, it announced a series of sweeping reform measures, including allowing FDI in retail.

72-hour deadline

An angry Banerjee gave a 72-hour deadline for a roll back, otherwise "hard decisions" would be taken. The Congress refused to relent, and Banerjee responded by withdrawing support Tuesday.

When asked about the Trinamool demands for roll back of the decisions, the sources merely said, "ask the petroleum minister".

The sources recalled that the government sought to reach out to Mamata Banerjee four days ago to explain the background behind the decisions it took.

The Prime Minister tried to speak to Banerjee twice over phone but she did not return the calls. Then Railway Minister Mukul Roy was contacted, the sources said, adding Roy acknowledged that Banerjee had received the message.
However, Roy said that nobody from the Government has spoken to him after Mamata Banerjee decided on withdrawing support last night.

Congress Core group meet

In a bid to tackle the challenge posed by the withdrawal of support by key UPA ally Trinamool Congress from UPA government, the embattled Congress Party convened its core group meeting on early Wednesday.

As per the sources, senior leaders including UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi attended the crucial meeting at the residence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at 10 am to review the political situation and discuss the key issues including diesel price hike, cap on subsidised LPG cylinders and FDI in retail.

Withdrawal of TMC's support

TMC chief Mamata Banerjee had declared withdrawal of her party’s support from the government after a 3-hour long marathon meeting on Tuesday.

“We had committed support to the UPA for five years but the ‘anti-aam admi’ decisions to allow FDI and diesel price hike and other decisions have forced us to take the extreme step,” Mamata Banerjee said.

Our ministers to resign on Friday: Mamata

"We are withdrawing our support... Our ministers will go to Delhi, meet the Prime Minister and tender their resignations at 3 PM on Friday," TMC chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced after a three-hour meeting.

Room for negotiation

Even if the Trinamool Congress has dealt a severe blow to the UPA by deciding to withdraw its support from UPA government at the Centre but has left open the doors for a possible rapprochement in the next three days.

The second biggest constituent of the UPA with 19 members in Lok Sabha sprang a surprise after a meeting of its MPs and top leaders with a caveat that the party could reconsider its stand if the government rolls back its decisions.

Banerjee wanted total withdrawal of the decision on FDI, raising the cap on subsidised LPG from six to 12 cylinders and reduction of diesel hike from Rs 5 by Rs 3 or Rs 4 for reconsideration of her decision.

Probability of UPA government’s survival

If the Trinamool Congress goes ahead with its decision to withdraw support, the UPA will be reduced to 251, 21 short of the majority mark of 272 in the 545-member Lok Sabha.

However, with the support of outside allies--Samajwadi Party (22), BSP (21) and some others-- the government is still comfortably placed with the support of over 300 members.


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