9.15pm: CPI(M) spokesperson Sitaram Yechury skeptical about Banerjee’s intentions.
True to the CPI(M)’s principles, Sitaram Yechury of the CPM said that the protocol is to inform the President about the TMC’s decision to withdraw. “Until she does that, there’s no way to know if she really means what she has just said,” said Yechury.
9.10pm: BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad comes out in support of Mamata Banerjee.
Emboldened by Mamata‘s decision, Prasad said that very little trust can be placed on a government which doesn’t consult the parties on whose support they are standing. “This is no more a UPA government, it is a Congress government. Banerjee reiterated what we have been saying all along – the FDI gates were opened to close down Coalgate,” he said.
9.05pm: Janardan Dwivedi, Congress leader, said that Mamata Banerjee is a valuable ally.
Dwivedi said that despite Mamata Banerjee’s strong-arm tactics, the UPA had always considered her a worthy ally. “We still consider her a valuable ally, despite what she has said today. We will discuss and talk about her demands with our leaders and plan a course of action,” said Dwivedi, in a feeble attempt to lob the ball back in Banerjee’s court.
9.00pm: Trinamool Congress leader Sultan Ahmed said that they might rethink the decision only if there is a 100 percent roll back of prices
Sultan Ahmed, Trinamool Congress leader, said that the party isn’t bothered about support from any political quarter and that it was an independent decision. “This is a corrupt government. Only if they rethink and take back their decisions, will we consider rethinking decisions,” he said.
8.50pm: Prakash Javadekar of the BJP says Mamata’s decision justified
Prakash Javadekar, spokesperson for the BJP, said that Mamata Banerjee did the right thing. “The UPA didn’t consult with the Opposition, it didn’t even take its allies’ opinions into account. Our bandh will protest their hasty decision making,” said Javadekar.
8.45pm: The Samajwadi Party said that they won’t be influenced the TMC’s decision.
The Samajwadi Party is reported to have said that they won’t be influenced by Mamata Banerjee’s withdrawal of support.Meanwhile, Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiiyar said that the ball is in the UPA’s court now.
8.40pm: Let the Congress decide what they want to do in Bengal.
Banerjee added that the Congress is free to decide what they want to do in Bengal (the Congress is the TMC ally in Bengal). ” We have a majority in Bengal, the Congress doesn’t have the same at the Centre,” she said.
8.10pm West Bengal, Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress, chief, Mamata Banerjee addresses the media and spews fire against the Congress
“In three years, coal and fuel prices have gone up. We always hoped that the government will listen to us, given that we are their second biggest ally. We stood by them despite the local Congress leaders slandering us, we had also promised out people that we would support the UPA government through its five-year term. We have warned the government not to make hasty decisions. Can we live well when our head is cut off? The common man is suffering. The subsidy is given from people’s money and not government’s. Where will the 50 million who work in the unorganised sector go if FDI is allowed. Why is the government not bringing back the black money? Government has started the ‘FDIgate’ to suppress the coal gate. On Friday, all TMC ministers will resign. We have decided to withdraw our support to UPA 2. Trinamool is a self-sufficient political party. We will oppose price hike in fertiliser and pension bill. Someone has to bell the cat. However, there is no reason for Congress and the Left to rejoice. Bengal has taken this big decision for the country. Trinamool has lost the railway portfolio but we are pro-people. I am proud of my Union ministers, state ministers and all party officials and workers. A ministry makes no difference. They (UPA 2) have lost their credentials.”
7.54pm CPI member Gurudas Dasgupta to Times Now
“Mamata is very unpredictable. If you are part of the government and you protest on the streets that means you are out of the government.”
7.51pm Post the meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister P Chidambaram, finance ministry sources confirms to Times Now that there will be no rethink on ministry level on the recent decisions on subsidised LPG cylinders, diesel price and FDI in multi-brand retail.
6.55pm: Chidu to discuss cabinet reshuffle, TMC issues with PM
Mamata Banerjee’s deadline over, the UPA ministers and leaders are making a beeline for the PM’s home to discuss how the Mamata-snub they are expecting can be dealt with. The latest to announce a visit to the PM is Finance Minister P Chidambaram, soon after it was learnt that Sonia Gandhi is headed to the PM’s residence to discuss a possible cabinet reshuffle.
6:30 pm: Law Minister Salman Khurshid says Mamata is a valuable ally
Salman Khurshid, Law Minister and senior Congress leader, is still hopeful of keeping Mamata Banerjee in the UPA and the government still standing.
He told CNN-IBN that they greatly respected the West Bengal Chief Minister and she was a “valuable ally”.
“It is time for change… not that of the government,” Khurshid said. He maintains that the economic measures undertaken by the government will benefit the common man, someone the West Bengal Chief Minister says she’s attempting to defend.
6:00 pm: TMC MP promises says it will bite and not just bark
In an interview with PTI, TMC MP Saugata Roy has said there will be no soft compromise.
“Mamata Banerjee has not said any sort of withdrawal of support. We will take a tough decision if the Centre does not accept our demands. We have two committments – to fight the anti-people decisions of the UPA government and to see the stability of the government. We have to strike a balance between the two,” TMC leader Saugata Roy said.
He said the Centre was yet to make any offer to TC Chief Mamata Banerjee.
“Hard decisions would be taken if the Centre does not accede to the demands (of TC). There will be no soft compromise. We do not bark but we also bite,” he said.
This was all of course said before the meeting between the TMC MPs began. Now it will be upto Mamata Banerjee to decide how much of a chunk to draw from the UPA with its bite.
5:40 pm: Congress puts up brave face, Sonia to meet PM over cabinet reshuffle
The Congress, which is expecting the result of the TMC meeting soon, has put up a brave face and says it doesn’t expect the government to fall.
“I assume there is no threat to the government,” Congress spokesperson Renuka Choudhary was quoted as saying by CNN-IBN.
The party spokesperson said the party had been in talks with the Mamata Banerjee, and they were confident “she will understand our stand”.
Mamata Banerjee may understand the stand, but will she accept it?
Meanwhile, Congress President Sonia Gandhi is on her way to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. CNN IBN reports that it is to discuss the cabinet reshuffle, which could mean the Congress is also planning for life without TMC MPs in the cabinet. Railway Minister Mukul Roy may be spared a few trips to Delhi if that happens.
5:30 pm: TMC meet begins
Photographers have been allowed in for a photo-op before the meet, but the meeting will be off limits for the media. Mamata Banerjee is expected to address the MPs and given it’s largely her decision to make, the meeting may be shorter than expected.
5: 10 pm: Mamata Banerjee arrives at party meet
The Chief Minister has arrived at Town Hall to begin the meet with her party’s MPs. Now the wait for her decision begins.
5:00 pm: TMC MPs start arriving at Town Hall for meeting
The Trinamool Congress MPs have begun arriving at Town Hall in Kolkata. As expected, no one knows what the firebrand Chief Minister of West Bengal plans to do over the UPA not responding to her 72 hour deadline.
Times Now quoted Congress leaders as saying that they had made attempts to reach out to Mamata Banerjee to try and interpret her next move and maybe even negotiate with her, but not surprisingly that fell flat.
So what will Mamata Banerjee do next? Will she give the UPA a few anxious moments or will this be a damp squib?
Here’s a primer for what it expected to happen:
Will Mamata Banerjee choose to leave the UPA completely or will she prefer to support the government from outside?
The Trinamool Congress leaving the UPA is unlikely, according to Rajdeep Sardesai, Editor-in-Chief, CNN-IBN.
The TMC might prefer to maintain a loose relationship with UPA, he said.
Another option the West Bengal Chief Minister has is pulling out her ministers and supporting the government from outside.
The Centre might also increase the cap on subsidised LPG cylinders to appease Mamata, said Sardesai, adding that the government may also dole out a financial package for West Bengal, a much needed initiative that has been on the cards for some time now.
His verdict is that Mamata’s moves will be to maximise the gains and go towards an incremental withdrawal rather than complete collapse of the UPA.
The Trinamool Congress, however, is still playing its cards close to its chest.
When interviewed by Times Now, TMC MP Kunal Ghose would only promise a decision that would be “historic” and would benefit the common man. “We want change of attitude in government. We will take a historic decision in favour of the common man,” he said.
Ahead of the parliamentary meet, where Banerjee is likely to announce her decision, she met MP and Railway Minister Mukul Roy, presumably to discuss the the party’s next plan of action.
The TMC chief had given the government a 72-hour deadline to roll back its decisions to hike diesel prices, reduce the number of subsidised LPG cylinders available per year and allowing FDI in multi-brand retail.