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Will not bear another hike, says Mamata as PM rules out rollback

Wednesday November 09, 2011 12:36:21 AM, IANS

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Kolkata/New Delhi: Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee Tuesday gave a reprieve to the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) but served a fresh ultimatum of walking out if petro-product prices was raised again. The prime minister ruled out a rollback of the latest petrol rate hike and remained non-commital on future rate revisions of cooking gas, diesel and kerosene.

"We will wait. If the price of petroleum products and cooking gas is increased again we will not stay with this government... The day the prices are increased we will severe all ties," said West Bengal chief minister Banerjee after her meeting with union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee in Kolkata. Her party MPs simultaneously held an hour-long meeting with the Prime Minister at his 7, Race Course residence in New Delhi.

Banerjee said Manmohan Singh told the MPs he had no information of any immediate increase in rates of kerosene, diesel and cooking gas.

"I had information that the union government is planning to increase the price of domestic gas. The decision lying with the (empowered) group of ministers is that the government will only provide three gas cylinders annually at subsidised rates and the people will have to buy the remaining cylinders at Rs.850-900," said Banerjee.

Trinamool is the second largest UPA partner with 18 Lok Sabha members.

"My MPs have told us that the prime minister said he had no such information with him now whether gas, diesel, cooking gas rates are going up," Banerjee said.

"But he hasn't given his word it won't increase in future. He was non-committal," she said.

After an hour-long meeting with Manmohan Singh, Trinamool parliamentary party chief Sudip Bandopadhyay said in Delhi that the prime minister agreed with them on the need for better coordination between UPA allies.

"The prime minister agreed with our sentiment... He said coordination between the UPA allies needs to be improved, regularised," Bandopadhyay said, three days after the Trinamool MPs suggested pulling out of the UPA after the petroleum companies announced Rs.1.80 per litre hike in petrol price Thursday by keeping allies "in the dark".

Meanwhile, describing Manmohan Singh's excuse of "price hike in international market" as a strategic ploy, an angry Banerjee wondered why the petrol price was not cut when it came down internationally.

"I know very well that until and unless government gives clearance, petrol prices cannot be increased. I was also a part of the cabinet at one time," she told a television channel.

She warned the Congress that "politics of forcing decisions" on allies is not the way to run coalition politics.

"If they don't want us we will leave. But we will not tolerate if the masses are overburdened.".

Expressing her bitterness with the Congress, she said it supped with different political parties according to political convenience.

"Earlier also they (Congress) have done such things. If they have a quarrel with Lalu Prasad Yadav they date Nitish Kumar. If they have a tussle with Mulayam Singh Yadav they go to Mayawati. We don't mind, it's their business. But ultimately they have to go for election," Banerjee said.

To a query if she managed to get some sops for the state during her meeting with Mukherjee at the Raj Bhavan, an infuriated Banerjee said: "Earlier also we had held such meetings. But there has been no outcome till now. When we get something we will tell you."

The chief minister also termed as "routine" her meeting with Mukherjee, who told reporters that he discussed not only the state's financial problem, but also "overall matters" during his talks with Banerjee.

"I have heard that their representatives have also discussed with the prime minister. The prime minister has expressed his concern," he said.






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