The Trinamool Congress, which appears determined to advertise the ‘on-the-skids’ image of the Manmohan Singh government, has decided to come in the way of the Centre’s plans to raise fuel price hike and any attempt to kick off financial sector reform.
The Trinamool Congress parliamentary group, which met in Kolkata on Friday evening, has decided to encircle the government so that it does not take up issues that are being opposed by the party. Mamata Banerjee has been networking with non-Congress chief ministers and her main objective appears to be to deny any elbow room for Congress.
Government managers, who are reconciled to an “unbearable heaviness of governance” after the state polls, have been maintaining that back-channels would be opened to create consensus on policy issues. But there is admission that on issues such as fuel price hike and the host of legislation on financial sector may not get all-round support.
Sources close to Mamata Banerjee said she would not even hesitate to rework the terms of her alliance with Congress if the latter puts uncomfortable issues on the policy table. “A proposal to hike fuel price could precipitate a crisis at the Centre,” said sources. The fear of antagonising Trinamool Congress appears to be preventing the government from taking a decision on the matter.
Trinamool Congress members are expected to highlight Banerjee’s complaint about ‘attack on federalism’ in Parliament during the budget session. Banerjee’s campaign had forced the government to put on hold the formation of the anti-terror platform, NCTC. Trinamool can also be expected to anchor the state governments’ attack on the Centre over financial allocations.
The rebel within will only aggravate the Centre’s inability to carry forward governance. The perception of a policy paralysis, something that has been on display for over a year, could have damning implications for Congress.
Politically, the development will advertise Congress’ failure as a coalition leader. With regional parties calling the shots now, the power bids of national parties are critically dependent on their skills in negotiating with coalition partners. “The warring allies have been highlighting Congress’ deficiencies in this department,” said a Congress leader who did not wish to be named.
On her part, Congress president Sonia Gandhi has said that her party would work with the allies to forge a consensus on difficult issues. But if the outcome of the Trinamool meeting is anything to go by, the party is not even ready for a discussion on contentious issues.