New Delhi, Sep 17: As Trinamool Congress’s 72-hour deadline for rollback diesel price hike, LPG subsidy cap and FDI in multi-brand retail neared its end on Monday, Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni expressed confidence that West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee won’t do anything to destabilise the government.
Soni hoped that Banerjee would consult her party and senior leaders before arriving at a decision over withdrawal of support over the FDI issue.
“All these things I am sure she is going to discuss with her colleagues and I do hope as an old colleague of hers, in public life we appreciate the stand she has always taken. I am confident that Mamata Banerjee will not want to do anything which would jeopardise the stability of the UPA Government,” she said.
Soni stressed that she trusted Mamata Banerjee to take a logical conclusion.
“She is hurt she is leading a big state, she has to respond to her people, so she realises that every increase in price will put a burden on the common man. I am confident that state governments will try and lessen the burden by rationalising taxes, but she does realise that- but let me reiterate time and again that Mamata Banerjee is one of our esteemed colleagues in the UPA Government,” said Soni.
“The UPA government is in place because of alliance partners like the TMC, the DMK, the NCP, the National Conference and other smaller groups,” she added.
Mamata Banerjee took to the streets in Kolkata earlier on Saturday warning that the TMC would take ‘hard’ decisions at the end of her 72-hour deadline set by her party if the UPA Government did not scrap FDI in retail, diesel price hike and limit on subsidised LPG.
“We have called a party meeting on Tuesday to discuss these issues. If the Centre does not roll back the hike in diesel price and withdraw decisions on FDI in multi-brand retail and curbs on LPG, we will take decisions, however hard they may be. I hope the people will not misunderstand,” she told a rally.
Expressing astonishment over the government’s sudden big-ticket reforms, Banerjee said: “I don’t know what happened. So many decisions were taken on a single day. We want economic reforms that reach the grassroots, not something that benefits a section. These are anti-people decisions.”
“We are not in favour of quitting the government. We are always in favour of not breaking the alliance. But we are committed to the people.” Banerjee said “we are the second largest ally of UPA and we could have got more cabinet berths. We have now only the Railway ministry but that hardly matters to us. What matters to us are the people,” she added.
Banerjee further said that she could not betray the trust of the people, who have instilled confidence in her.
“We don’t want FDI in retail. This was in our election manifesto. The people voted us for five years. How can we betray their trust? How many times will you go on hiking prices at the cost of the common people?” she asked.
Opposition parties ranging from the Left to the right will hold a nation-wide strike on Thursday to protest against the reforms in retail on the grounds that super-chains like Wal-Mart and Tesco will obliterate thousands of corner stores and the livelihood of many small farmers.
The government has, however, been stressing that states have the right to decide whether to allow FDI in retail. (ANI)