Will remain with UPA unless humiliated: Mamata

Last Updated: Tue, Mar 20, 2012 06:33 hrs
Mamata Banerjee heading for Delhi

New Delhi: Notwithstanding her pin-pricks to the government over various issues, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday said she was committed to the UPA and would remain with it unless it is humiliated or "they throw us out".

She, however, made it clear that if her party is humiliated, she would have to take a "decision", apparently referring to the continuance of support to the UPA government.

"There are some issues... I am not angry. I can't disclose the entire story to the press. I am with a particular alliance. I can't comment against that. There is decorum in democratic system," Mamata told CNN-IBN.

Pointing out that every political party has some political commitment to the people, the West Bengal Chief Minister said "I am only committed to keep my commitment also."

Asked whether she would withdraw support to the government, she said "I am committed to UPA-II because we had contested the election together. I want to keep my manifesto promise. Unless, until they throw us out, we would continue with respect, whatever they may give to us."

At the same time, she added, "if there is humiliation, you have to take a decision. Until there is humiliation, we will abide by our commitment."

Her statement assumes significance as she has been repeatedly giving headaches to the government by opposing various measures like NCTC, FDI in retail, fuel price and railway fare hike.

Answering a variety of questions including on removal of Dinesh Trivedi, Mamata, at one point, said the "Prime Minister cannot decide on the Railway Minister because it is a coalition government. I can't interfere in Congress business, Congress can't interfere in our party business." Underlining that it was her party's prerogative to choose who would be Railway Minister, she said her party had only one cabinet minister given to it whereas there are parties with 10 members having two to three cabinet berths.

"That is they gave us the Railway and we did not ask for finance, home or defence," said the chief of Trinamool Congress which has 19 members in the Lok Sabha.

She indicated she should have been consulted on the railway budget which proposed fare hike. "He (Trivedi) is my own minister. At least on policy decision... I am not asking the budget proposal to be given to me. Can you think that without discussing the policy decision with Soniaji, Congress can place the budget? In every party, there is a parampara (tradition)," Trinamool Congress chief said.

She claimed her party "did not interfere" on resignation of Trivedi but said "if somebody is deputed from the party, they have to inform the party about the policy decision. At least, you should inform about the price hike."

She argued the union cabinet never passed the railway budget and even in case of general budget, the cabinet endorsed it just "half an hour" before presentation in Parliament. "Only the PM and Finance Minister know the budget," she said.

Responding to the charge that Railway Ministry was being used by her as her personal office, Mamata shot back "why does Soniaji decide who will be the PM of the country? Because she is the leader of the party. Making evident her displeasure over the functioning of the Railway Ministry under Trivedi, Mamata said, "All my people have been thrown out from the railway. We never questioned that."

Opposing hike in railway fares in lower classes, the former Railway Minister said, "The poor people every day travel by train. More than 60 per cent of them are daily passengers. Two paise or five paise increase amounts to Rs 200 in a month."

On whether there would be a rollback of fare hike, she declined to comment, saying it was the business of Parliament to take decision in this regard. "Let the new minister take oath. I did not discuss anything with the PM as this is not his matter."

Mamata rejected the contention that it was a reform railway budget. "Those who praise the budget only see their angle and don't see the public angle. Unfortunate part in this country today is if you say something for the poor, one section of media says it's bad."

She argued that increasing the fare was not the only way out. "I believe in going for innovations. You should go for commercialisation, new business options. I had given all options."

With regard to her demand for special package for West Bengal, the Chief Minister said her government was carrying the baggage of the Left front legacy with Rs 2,03,000 crore debt.

"Before elections, PM assured us of special package... I am not begging for money from the Centre. We need to protect our right," she said, adding the state's total income was Rs 21,000 crore while the central government was taking Rs 22,000 crore from the state.

"Only Delhi can't run the country. I support the national party and also the federal front. You need so many flowers to make a garland. One flower can't make a garland. All parties have their own importance in their states," she said.

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