No one is perhaps as vocal against Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee these days as Congress leader Arunava Ghosh.
A lawyer by profession, Ghosh is quick to put forth the logical explanations behind the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government's recent economic reforms that paved the way for the Trinamool Congress' walkout.
It should be mentioned here that Ghosh was with the Trinamool Congress for years.
In fact, as a TMC candidate, he had even defeated Communist Party of India-Marxist's leader Ajit Chowdhury in the West Bengal assembly election of 2001.
But gradually things turned bitter between him and Banerjee and Ghosh moved over to the Congress.
In a candid conversation with rediff.com's Indrani Roy, Ghosh spoke about the split between the Congress and the Trinamool, the possibility of a mid-term poll and Banerjee's present political stance.
How confident are you about the United Progressive Alliance government continuing in power till 2014?
I am absolutely certain that this government will continue in power. UPA has the necessary majority. Democracy is all about numbers and UPA has the necessary numbers.
I know for sure that most of the members of the Parliament don't want a mid-term poll. A mid-term election means huge expenditure for the country. Moreover, none of the MPs want to lose their privileges midway.
Even though Bharatiya Janata Party leaders are crying themselves hoarse over a mid-term election, their MPs want this government to continue. For, in their heart of hearts, they all know there is no alternative to the UPA, at least for the moment.
In case there is a mid-term poll, how would the Congress fare?
None of the major parties (Congress and BJP) will get an absolute majority if an election is held tomorrow. I will feel sad for India if we end up having a mid-term election as regional parties will emerge powerful. And that won't augur well for the economy and politics of India.
And if the Congress wins and ends up forming the government again, whom do you see as the next prime minister?
There can be no better candidate than Dr Manmohan Singh. He is one of the most honest leaders India has ever seen. Also, I have great faith in his abilities and his political acumen.
Your party said it tried to contact Mamata Banerjee many times before September 18 but she refuted this claim and called the Congress leaders liars...
Lying to Mamata Banerjee is what meowing is to a cat. Do I need to elaborate?
Why did Congress boycott the state meeting on Wednesday? Is the message loud and clear now that the state alliance between the two parties is over as well?
The relation between the two parties has always been sour. The going was never smooth. Mutual respect is a key tenet for any good alliance, political or otherwise.
(Mamata Banerjee) was always after us. She treated the Congress as an opposition, not an ally. I think she got frustrated as her party alone, sans the Congress, could not dent the Left's Front's votes. Both the Congress and the TMC got anti-Left votes in the last elections.
The fact that the anti-Left votes got split because of the Congress is what irked her the most.
Be it at the Centre or in Bengal, the Congress-Trinamool alliance has never been a happy one. What went wrong?
One party's rise has always been the other party's fall. There has been a clash of interests throughout. A happy marriage under these circumstances seemed impossible.
The panchayat election is just round the corner. How confident are you of your party fighting it alone?
Congress will do well in the three North Bengal districts -- North Dinajpur, Malda and Murshidabad. As far as other parts of Bengal are concerned, we shall be jeopardising the prospects of TMC in south Bengal. Kindly mark my words (laughs).
The grapevine has it that Congress took such drastic economic stances to push out a vexing ally like Trinamool. Is it so?
This is utter rubbish. Economic measures are the need of the hour. They are a must to save the economy and to retain growth.
It has also been alleged that a secret deal has already been struck between (Bahujan Samaj Party chief) Mayawati and Congress before the government announced a hike in diesel price and foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail. Is it true?
There have been no secret deals so far. Once there is any such arrangement, you (the media) will be the first to know.
Is it true that the Congress in Bengal was gradually becoming politically irrelevant as many of its senior leaders had crossed over to the Trinamool?
I thoroughly disagree. Congress is relevant everywhere for te formation of any government. It has always been one of the most potent political voices across India.
Now that Mamata Banerjee has walked out of the UPA, she is expected to gain tremendous political mileage from this move.
(Laughs) TMC, as a political outfit, feels that Mamata must protect the consumers. But we are losing sleep over how to save the consumers from Mamata. Stunts are her way of existence and she is only interested about her own political career. People don't matter to her at all. And people are no fools not to realise that.
The Trinamool Congress government has brought a privilege motion against you for some comments you made about West Bengal Assembly Speaker Biman Banerjee. Can we get a few details?
I had criticised erstwhile West Bengal Legislative Assembly Speaker Hashim Abdul Halim and present Speaker Biman Banerjee for being partisan. I had praised Ananthasayanam Ayyangar and Somnath Chatterjee as ideal Lok Sabha Speakers for their neutrality.
I had described Halim as the Communist Party of India-Marxist's goalkeeper in the assembly. More recently, I compared (Biman) Banerjee with a character in a famous Bengali film Dhonyi Meye.
In that film, the referee of a football match played by late comedian Ravi Ghose used to wait for a signal from the zamindar before validating a goal. I was shocked when our Assembly Speaker Biman Banerjee suspended young Forward Bloc MLA Ali Imran Ramz in June at the behest of TMC MLA Subrata Mukherjee.
Ramz was even denied an opportunity to defend himself!
Following this, during a television chat show, I had commented that like (Ravi) Ghose, our assembly speaker always looks at Mamata while delivering a speech. I came to know from newspaper reports that a privilege motion has been brought against me by the TMC Chief Whip Sovandeb Chattopadhyay.
I won't mind going to jail for speaking the truth. Let's see what happens.