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Say no to the bully

Prime Minister should have the courage to tell Mamata there’s a door out of the coalition

Written by The Indian Express | Published: March 16, 2012 12:10 am

Prime Minister should have the courage to tell Mamata there’s a door out of the coalition

How often has Parliament been held hostage to the spectacle of a party asking for the removal of its own nominee to a senior cabinet post because it didn’t like the minister’s budget? The question is rhetorical; but it’s putting it too mildly about the Trinamool Congress’s abominable conduct over Union Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi’s railway budget. For,West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is not just pressuring the prime minister. That would still be understandable in politics. To set aside Trivedi’s courage in presenting the sort of budget needed to save the Indian Railways as well as the questionable issue of this ministry automatically going to a powerful ally,what Banerjee is resorting to is bullying — and not for the first time. This time,she shouldn’t get away with it.

The government has said there will be no replacement of the minister till end-March — Banerjee’s new nominee is,of course,her colleague Mukul Roy,who,in his earlier stint as MoS for railways,didn’t have the human decency,let alone sense of responsibility,to visit a train crash site,putting the onus on the prime minister who had taken temporary charge of railways. Well,the onus is now on the prime minister to show courage of his nuclear-deal vintage when he had risked his government’s survival. This time,the risk is nowhere as high. Banerjee’s TMC is no longer indispensable to UPA 2,with the Samajwadi Party or the BSP — each with more MPs than TMC — looking an increasingly reasonable option. Also,the TMC’s insistence that it’s not quitting UPA 2 perhaps hints at its own fear of redundancy at the Centre. And Banerjee herself is doing a great job of showing to the world how reliable an ally she and her party can be.

From FDI in retail,land acquisition,Lokayukta,to the NCTC,Banerjee has blocked one policy initiative after another. It would be a scandal if she now got Trivedi’s head and the fare hike rollback she demands. While the Congress must share the blame for failing to coordinate with its allies on big-ticket initiatives,it would again have itself to blame if it allowed Banerjee to run the government and the country aground now. There’s a door out of UPA 2,and the TMC ought to be shown it. For,there’s only one time-tested way to take on a bully — you stand up and say no.

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