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Exit of Mamta Banerjee from the UPA – a done deal ?




Finally, the Congress overcomes some of the policy paralysis that it was facing, and started on the path of reform, using some steps that it could take without going to Parliament. So, it declared a shock one day by raising the price of diesel by Rs. 5, and even before people could even realize that this step had happened, it took further steps by allowing FDI in retail (which did not need approval in Parliament but for which there was a lot of resistance from allies) and by increasing the amount of foreign holding in airlines. These steps suddenly showed the Government in full forward gear, notwithstanding some pressure from allies. In fact, with these steps by the Government, allies and even the opposition did not know what to do. There was some shock, and then there was the fightback by all of them. Even the allies of the Government made some noises, but it is only the maverick Mamta Banerjee who the one whose reaction was unknown.
Mamta Banerjee reacted with fury. After all, even previous such pronouncements by the Government had been beaten back by the fury of Mamta’s protestations, and the Government had seemed to have gone into slumber. However, seeing the Government in slumber caused an outcry of protests and statements that seemed to start hitting the Congress the wrong way; there were a series of articles in both the domestic and international press that hit at both the Prime Minister, and more important, against the prince of the dynasty, Rahul Gandhi. These must has shaken the Congress, since the heir apparent is the only thing that seems right for the Congressmen, with their knowledge that the Government of Manmohan Singh has an incredibly horrible reputation with the urban section of society and is losing its support among the poorer section of society as well.

As a result, the Government seems to have decided that it will put the full weight of Sonia Gandhi behind the various measures taken by the Congress, which also means that there will be no more comments by Congressmen about these measures and how this might go against the common man. Otherwise the Congress normally tries to ensure that it stays on both sides of a policy by having somebody, typically the maverick Digvijay Singh leading the opposition. And it has also employed the services of many of its group of financial experts / economists to push for these reforms and why they were necessary.
It seems that this time that Mamta Banerjee finally decided that she had enough of the Government upsetting her ego, by not taking her approval. Further, first she gave the Congress 3 days before her ministers would quit the Government, and when this 3 days were over and it did not seem like the Congress was willing to bend down or do any kind of rollback, Mamta has announced that she will remove support from the Government; but it was not like ministers giving in their resignation letters to the Prime Minister or the President, nor has Mamta yet sent a letter to the President withdrawing her support. She is still giving more time to the Congress to try and reduce the policies and give her a face saving measure, and she does not Congress support for providing financial support needed for Bengal. So the maverick politician could still surprise everybody.




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