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Mamata's antics: Congress obliges, government suffers

Last updated on: April 12, 2012 23:47 IST

Mamata's antics: Congress obliges, government suffers

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Renu Mittal in New Delhi

Despite getting a bigger-than-sought package from the central government for West Bengal and despite the Congress refraining from putting up a candidate in the Rajya Sabha elections from the state, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has made up her mind that she will continue to oppose most of the central government bills, projects and schemes.

On Thursday, it was the turn of the newly-appointed Railway Minister Mukul Roy to make Mamata's voice heard in a meeting of the Union cabinet. And he ended up opposing much of what the government was proposing.

There were 3 important items, which he opposed.

The first was the Lokpal Bill, which has been passed in the Lok Sabha but is stuck in the Rajya Sabha following opposition from parties like the Trinamool Congress (which passed it in Lok Sabha).

Roy said the Trinamool Congress wants chapter 3 of the bill relating to Lokayuktas in states to be scrapped. The bill, if re-drafted, will have to come up again before the cabinet before it can be passed afresh.

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Image: Mamata Banerjee


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Mamata's antics: Congress obliges, government suffers

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Roy also had strong objections to the government procurement bill and wants large aspects of it changed though he refused to spell out later what exactly he was opposing and on what grounds.

This is being done in the interest of wanting greater transparency in government procurement. The cabinet eventually decided to make the changes and redraft the bill. For this, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, C P Joshi and Mukul Roy will sit together.

The newly-inducted railway minister then had problems with a decision taken by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs of which he is not a member, on a decision regarding new rates for coal royalty that will benefit the state governments.

This decision will benefit all states except West Bengal, as the state has certain specific provisions by which it cannot benefit with the new royalty rates unless they amend their old provisions.

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Image: Railway Minister Mukul Roy


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Mamata's antics: Congress obliges, government suffers

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Senior ministers in the government say that as the voice of Mamata, Roy has been primed up to oppose a number of policy initiatives of the government.

One minister said that if it continues in this vein, it would be difficult to bring in new measures with the government already reeling under the charge that the UPA has become non-functional and has failed to take key governance initiatives and measures.

The feeling in the government is that the Sonia Gandhi-Manmohan Singh duo is afraid to annoy Mamata even to a tiny extent and by agreeing to every demand of hers, however irrational it may be, it has emboldened her to keep pushing the envelope and ask for more, more and more.

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