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Will not leave UPA; but don't humiliate us: Mamata

Last updated on: March 20, 2012 08:55 IST

Will not leave UPA; but don't humiliate us: Mamata

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Notwithstanding her pin-pricks to the government over various issues, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee on Monday said she was committed to the United Progressive Alliance and would remain with it unless it is humiliated or "they throw us out".

In an exclusive interview with CNN-IBN Editor in Chief Rajdeep Sardesai, Mamta Banerjee about the recent row over former Railway minister Dinesh Trivedi and the strained relationship with the Congress.

On withdrawing from UPA-II

"Whatever we are doing, our decisions are for the poor people, the common people. But sometimes our partly is depicted wrongly by the media, which is wrong.

We have been with the United Progressive Alliance-II since last the three years. Within these years we have not asked anything from them. In Parliament, though we have six Rajya Sabha members, no room has been allotted to us for parliamentary party office, even not the political party office.

We did not ask for membership of any committee or commission. We only raised the issues we had promised in our manifesto.

I'm committed to UPA-II because we contested the elections together. I want to keep my manifesto promise. Unless and until they throw us out, we will treat them with respect. If there is humiliation, you have to take a decision.

On annoyance with UPA govt

There are some issues...I'm not angry. I can't disclose the entire story to the press. I'm with a particular alliance, I can't comment against that. There is decorum in democratic system.

The Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party keep their respective commitments to their manifestos. Every political party has some political commitment to the people. I will only keep my commitment.

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Image: Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee


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On Opposition to FDI

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The government can't provide employment to everyone. Around 5-10 crore people are involved in the retail market. This is a self-sufficient business. We don't want the retail market business to be curtailed.

On removal of Railway minister

On railway fare hike I can't give you the detail as the railway budget is pending with Parliament. The new minister will take a decision on that. I won't.

"He is my own minister, at least on policy decision...I'm not asking the budget proposal to be given to me. Can you think the Congress can place the Budget without discussing the policy decision with Soniaji?

In every party there is a parampara (tradition). The TMC did not interfere on Trivedi's resignation. All my people have been thrown out from the railway ministry.  We never questioned that.

The Cabinet never passed the railway budget. Even in case of the general budget, the Cabinet endorsed it just before half an hour. Only the prime minister and the finance minister know the budget.

If somebody is deputed from the party they have to inform the party about the policy decision. At least you should inform about the price hike.

They should work for the poor people. It the higher class who have the advantage to travel by air.

The poor travel by train; more than 60 per cent of them are daily passengers. Two paisa or five paisa increase amounts to around Rs 200 a month."

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Image: File photo of Dinesh Trivedi with Mamata Banerjee

Tags: FDI , TMC , Soniaji , Congress

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On consultation with Finance Minister on fare hike

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"The prime minister and the finance minister do not tell the railway minister what to do. Just before the budget they had increased the freight fare by b20 per cent. I was not aware of that.

I came to know about it after one CM wrote to me, I'm not naming the CM. I did not ask for removal that time, I digested it. If you see all bogus things going on then you have to take a decision.

When I saw the fare increase is for the suburban area and the sleeper class -- all the poor people travel in sleeper class."

On rollback of fare price hike

"I can't comment on rollback.  It is up to Parliament to take a decision. Let the new minister to take the oath. I did not discuss anything with the PM as this is not his concern."

On the Railway Budget

"hose who praise the budget only see their own point and don't see the public angle. Unfortunate part in this country today is if you say something for the poor, one section of media says it's bad. Increasing the fare is not the only way out. I believe in going for innovations. You should go for commercialisation, new business options. I had given all options.

On Dinesh Trivedi

I don't want to discuss anything about an individual.

On expelling Dinesh Trivedi from the party

He is in our party. I'm not saying anything on it.....it is our party's matter. I can't disclose that.

On being anti-reform

It is not reform. It's a pressure on the poor people. You people plead for some individual and don't plead for the country.

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Image: A file photo of a railway station


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On using railway ministry as her personal office

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Why does Soniaji decide who will be the PM? Because she is the party chief.  The prime minister cannot decide on the railway minister because it is a coalition government. I can't interfere in Congress' business. Similarly, the Congress can't interfere in our party business.

We have only one cabinet minister in UPA-II and they give it to us. There are parties with 10 members but two to three cabinet berths. That's why they gave us the railways.

We did not ask for finance, home or defence ministries. Only we can decide who will be our minister.

When I became the CM, they sent me a list of who will the ministers be. I could not pick from their party. It was for their party to decide.

On UPA coordination committee

We have been demanding that from the beginning. But now three years are over. I don't need anything. I only demand they should work for the people.

On Special package to Bengal

"In 2005, the Central government started the FRBM policy. The then WB government did not accept it. We are carrying the baggage of the Left front legacy.

Before elections, the PM assured us for a special package. Now more than 20,3000 crore debt is pending. I'm not begging for money from the Centre.

We need to protect our right. Our total income is only 21,000 crore.  The Central government is taking 22,000 crore from the State treasury. How will I give drinking water, food or electricity to the people?

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Image: Congress president Sonia Gandhi
Photographs: Reuters

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On Pranab Mukherjee

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Forget it. He is the finance minister for the entire country, entire world. People of Bengal are not beggars. Every state has its own respect. The rumour is that the people of Bengal did not vote for the Congress so the financial blockade is going on. It is most unfortunate.

I'm hurt but I don't want to quarrel over this. I did not go to Sonia Gandhi on this issue because it's not good to disturb her. She is not keeping well and I wish her a speedy recovery.

We met the PM 10 times and the finance minister 12 times. They gave us assurance before the elections.

There should be some restructuring of the debt system so that states such as Kerala, Punjab and WB can get their due. We don't want money but interest payment and debt payment should be stopped for sometime.

On NCTC

It's a federal issue. I appreciate combating terrorism. But the State government and the Central government should do it together. The Centre is like the parent and the State government is like the children. If you want the child's health to be good, then both parent and the child should be in good health.

During my last visit they had a press statement without consultation with the CMs. Why did they include it in the President's address? This created confusion unnecessarily. This is no less than the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act. I fought against TADA. This act can be politically misused.

On communication gap from Congress

That's true. We don't want to fight everyday. There should be some mechanism. The alliance party must enjoy some trust as well. When there is an alliance there should be consultation, coordination and good understanding. If anything hurts anybody then they should discuss it and sort it out.

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Image: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with Sonia Gandhi
Photographs: Reuters

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On mid-term elections in 2012

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There will be no anti-incumbency in WB. We have done an excellent job in nine months. We have finished 99 per cent of whatever we promise.

On one man show in TMC

Soniaji decides for the Congress. The BJP has their own leaders. Mulayamji decide for the Samajwadi Party. You ask the members of Parliament and the members of Legislative Assembly about the dialogue within the party.

I come from a middle-class family, so it's the Delhi's attitude to behave like this and to humiliate me. I will belong to common man and will be talking about the common man.

On RS berth to Congress in Bengal

I gave them the seat last time. This was the commitment. We gave the seat to the Congress without even asking.  This time there was an understanding that they will be supporting us. They are betraying us. We are not.

On SP being seen as more reliable

I've a good relationship with Mulayamji. A section of the Congress talks about that, and I know it. It's their prerogative to get SP into alliance. You can't have a tie-up with SP because of difference with former Chief Minister Mayawati.

Similarly, if you have some issue with the TMC you can't go with the Communist Party of India-Marxist. This is unfair in alliance politics.

In last three years there has been no tension on individual issues. There is no financial issue.

On the Federal front

All the grassroots leaders who know this country matter. Delhi alone can't run the country. I support the national party and also the federal front. You need so many flowers to make a garland. One flower can't make garland. All parties have their own importance in their states.


Image: Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav


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