New Delhi: On a day
when the Congress faced heat from its key allies inside
parliament, the government tried to reach out to them and agreed
for better coordination to avoid further embarrassment.
But Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee snubbed government
efforts again by sending a junior party member for Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh's dinner meet for alliance partners.
In a warning, senior Congress leader and Finance Minister Pranab
Mukherjee told the allies that if they bring in amendments, the
government will fall.
Amid talks of mid-term polls following the Congress party's poor
showing in the assembly elections to five states, the prime
minister invited UPA allies - DMK, Trinamool Congress, Nationalist
Congress Party (NCP) and National Conference MPs -- to dinner. The
meeting was to discuss the strategy for the parliament session,
which will be taking up crucial financial business, including the
rail and general budget this week.
"We all agree that there should be greater coordination.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister (Pawan K. Bansal) will call the
leaders of the parties to discuss floor coordination," Home
Minister P.Chidambaram told reporters outside 7 Race Course Road -
the official residence of prime minister.
"There is a fair chance there could be voting on occasions when
these three subjects are taken up. We request all the leaders
should ensure that their members are present in the house and vote
along with the government," Chidambaram said.
He was referring to the president's speech, the rail budget and
the general budget.
He also expressed confidence that the government would be seeing
through financial business in parliament.
The meet called to thrash out differences with its major allies
further left the government red-faced.
Senior Trinamool Congress leaders, including its seven ministers,
skipped the dinner. The party is also planning to organise a
sit-in in the parliament complex to demand a special financial
package for West Bengal.
Trinamool Congress MP Ratna De Nag was the lone MP who was
But, Home Minister P.Chidambaram brushed it aside.
"The Trinamool Congress representative was present and the meeting
was cordial," Chidambaram added. When pressed further, he said the
members couldn't join as the West Bengal assembly session will be
The dinner came a few hours after both the DMK and Trinamool
Congress embarrassed the government inside the parliament.
The Trinamool Congress, which has been attacking the government on
various issues, including the latest move by the central
government to set up National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) in
the states, has said it would move an amendment on the president's
speech, which mentions setting up NCTC.
The DMK asked the United Progressive Alliance government to vote
against Sri Lanka on a US-sponsored resolution before the United
Nations High Commission on Human Rights (UNHCHR) in Geneva on war
crimes. It also asked the government to make its stand clear on
Those present at the meet included National Conference's Farooq
Abdullah and DMK's T.R. Baalu, who represented the DMK.
From the NCP, union Minister for Heavy Industries Praful patel was
present. However, Sharad Pawar, who heads the NCP was not present
as he had fainted in the parliament and had to be admitted to the
Speaking to reporters, Chidambaram also said that "smaller parties
who are the members of the alliance desired that they should get
more time to speak because they cannot express their views in two
"We agreed that Congress will give chunk of its time to smaller
parties so that members can speak 7-8 minutes," he added.