Posted On Friday, September 21, 2012 at 09:02:25 AM
New Delhi: After the initial panic at the thought of losing an ally like the Trinamool Congress (TMC), the Congress on Thursday indicated that it’s in no hurry to scout for new allies.
|IN HAPPIER TIMES: PM Manmohan Singh and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee
Even as TMC ministers said that they would tender their resignations on Friday, senior Congress ministers asserted that as far as numbers are concerned they have no need to worry. Senior party leaders said that they are not looking for any quick replacement for the TMC.
The Congress wants everyone to know that it is not courting the Samajwadi Party (SP) or the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).
However, within the Congress, the general consensus seems to be in favour of taking support from Mayawati. “The BSP leader is a shade better for us than Mulayam. She has a vote bank that she can share with us,” said a Congress MP from Uttar Pradesh.
Congress sources admitted that SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, with 22 MPs, has already indicated that he is not averse to bailing out the UPA at the Centre. He does not want the Congress to fall back on the BSP.
For her part, BSP supremo Mayawati, who has 21 MPs, kept away from the nationwide protest over the hike in diesel prices, FDI in retail and cut in subsidised LPG cylinders on Thursday.
“We have the numbers. We are not looking for a TMC replacement at all,” said MoS for Parliament Affairs Rajiv Shukla. He said that after TMC’s exit, UPA will still have 244 MPs – Congress (205), DMK (18), NCP (9), RLD (5), National Conference (3) and RJD (4). “We have the support of 19 smaller parties and independents.
That gives us a total of 263. We can easily manage nine more to reach the magic figure of 272 with support from three JD (U) rebels.” Setting an audacious tone for the UPA government, Finance Minister P Chidambaram said, “We had enough friends yesterday, we have enough friends today.
So, I don't think why you should doubt our stability.” As for new allies, he said, “If we can acquire new friends, why would we not?” The firmness in Chidambaram’s tone indicated that the Government was in no mood to negotiate with the TMC.
Sources said the UPA had no choice but to be firm. “There is no scope for back channel communication or negotiations. We will hand over resignation letters to the PM,” said Union Minister and TMC leader Saugata Ray.
Phone tapping row
On Thursday, TMC chief Mamata Banerjee alleged that the UPA government had tapped her phone. “"If you have the Central government in your hand you can get the phones tapped. It has happened with me before.” However, Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde denied these allegations.