Six Congress ministers in the Mamata Banerjee government skipped a cabinet meeting chaired by the chief minister today,in what appeared to be a ripple effect of yesterdays pullout of the Trinamool Congress from the UPA – II.
The Congress has two cabinet ministers - Manas Bhuniya and Abu Hena - and four ministers of state - Sabina Yasmin,Sunil Tirke,Abu Naser Khan Chowdhury and Pramathanath Roy in West Bengal. None of them attended their office today.
Todays cabinet meet lasted hardly 10 minutes. Cabinet ministers from the Trinamool Congress were led to the cabinet room by Mamata this afternoon,but the meeting ended very soon without transacting any serious business.
There were contradictory versions from West Bengal Pradesh Congress leaders regarding the party high commands stand on skipping the meeting.
Shaqueel Ahmed,AICC observer in charge of West Bengal,said over phone from Delhi: I told the ministers not to resign till Friday. Regarding the cabinet meeting,I advised them to take spot decisions since they are senior leaders. They did not have to go if they felt awkward. I left the matter to them.
State fisheries minister and senior Congress leader Abu Hena said,In the wake of yesterdays development,we had sought the opinion of the party high command on whether we should attend the cabinet meeting. But the high command has not given its approval. This is why we did not attend the cabinet meet.
Manas Bhuniya,minister for minor irrigation,said: We received instructions from the high command not to attend todays cabinet meeting. However,we have been told to carry on with our office work till a final call is taken by AICC.
Another Congress minister said,The political environment is quite abnormal. The chief minister has alleged that despite being the second largest partner in UPA,her party was not getting honour from the Congress. We have similar allegations. We were never given importance ever since the Trinamool-led government assumed charge.
A Congress minister in the Mamata cabinet,Manoj Chakraborty,resigned a few months ago and slammed what he termed the high-handedness of Trinamool ministers.
The state Congress will have to wait for AICC instructions on another issue - its role in the Assembly when it is in session from September 21. Some bills have been lined up for the session. Md Sohrab,leader of the Congress Legislature Party,said everything will have to wait till Friday.
Abdul Mannan,Pradesh Congress spokesperson,took exception to Mamatas reference to Jummabar and offering namaaz. Is this a sign of respect for other religions? he asked. He also said the Congress would oppose the bandh called tomorrow by the CPM and BJP.
WBPCC president Pradip Bhattacharya,who was in Delhi yesterday,will be back this evening.