NEW DELHI: In order to stem the slide in the Congress-Trinamool relations, which is threatening to shake the foundations of UPA-II coalition, Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh is being dispatched to Kolkata to cool Mamata Banerjee’s frayed tempers. So when Ramesh visits Kolkata on January 23, his primary job would be to smoke the peace pipe to ensure that the cracks do not widen any further.
For, if sources are to be believed, he’s carrying an important message from Congress president Sonia Gandhi, that Mamata has her full backing. This despite the fact that Congress Minister Manoj Chakraborty faxed his resignation from the Bengal Cabinet to his party high-command and is refusing to retrace his steps. So Chakraborty will be allowed to put in his papers as a mark of protest in West Bengal, but the Congress top brass will not use the issue to exacerbate the situation in Delhi. Sources in the know said that the Congress president is of the view that the call of who gets what portfolio or who remains in her cabinet should be left to the Chief Minister. The fact that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh does not enjoy the same bandwidth here in the Centre is being treated as another matter altogether.
Talks on Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi’s possible exit from the UPA Cabinet prior to the presentation of the Railway Budget or
Mulayam Singh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party replacing Trinamool in the Centre after the UP polls, are now being brushed aside as too speculative by the Congress. “Let us see, a lot depends on the UP results. It’s too early to say anything with certainty at this stage,” a top Congress leader said.
Even if the SP becomes part of the government, there’s no reason to believe that they will be coming in to replace the TMC. It seems Sonia Gandhi is not too keen to snap ties with Mamata, who she sees as a grass-root leader who has come up through long political struggle. Mamata needs to be given more time to prove or disprove herself, eight months of rule is not enough to establish her credentials, Law Minister Salman Khurshid and I&B Minister Ambika Soni are of this view. Notwithstanding Mamata’s refusal to allow the Centre to ink the Teesta agreement with Bangladesh, permit FDI in retail or pass Lokpal and Pension Bills, she is to be treated with kid gloves.
What seems to be prompting the Congress to tread cautiously is its unwillingness to rock the UPA boat because of a few disgruntled Bengal Congress leaders, none of which could be an alternative to Mamata. Also the Congress high-command does not want the Left, especially CPM’s Prakash Karat or Biman Bose, to have the last laugh.