Trinamool `mentally ready` to quit UPA

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KOLKATA, June 18 (Agencies): A combative Trinamool Congress on Monday evening sent a terse message to Congress saying it was “mentally prepared to quit” UPA government and should not be given any “indirect threat”. “Trinamool ministers are mentally prepared to resign from the central government if the Congress thinks we are a burden or if Mamata Banerjee instructs them to do so. We will not stay by force. We should not be given any indirect threat”, leader of the TMC parliamentary party in the Lok Sabha Sudip Bandopadhyay told reporters here.

“If Trinamool Congress leaves the UPA on its own, it will give a wrong message to the people that it wanted to topple the UPA government,” a party leader quoted Banerjee as having said at a crucial meeting of party MPs and MLAs shortly after A P J Abdul Kalam announced his decision to opt out of the presidential race.

Briefing newsmen about the nearly two-hour meeting, leader of the parliamentary party, Bandopadhyay, however, said reports that party MPS and union ministers submitting letters of resignation to the party supremo were “totally baseless.” “We have not tendered our resignation letters anywhere, neither to the party supremo nor to the government.

“Our leader Mamata Banerjee has categorically said that we do not want to make this government weak,” Bandopadhyay said.

“It is an ugly and motivated report. It will not take us a second`s time to resign from the UPA government. If Mamata directs, railway minister Mukul Roy and the other six ministers of state would resign.”

Earlier, terming as “appropriate” the decision by her favoured candidate APJ Abdul Kalam to pull out of the presidential race, Congress today renewed its appeal to Mamata Banerjee to back UPA nominee Pranab Mukherjee.

In an apparent move to mollify Mamata, the AICC also snubbed party general secretary Digvijaya Singh, who had dubbed the Trinamool Congress supremo as “erratic” and “immature” and had given signals that the party`s patience with her was running out.

“Digvijaya Singh is not officially authorised to speak on behalf of the party,” the AICC said in a media release.

The Congress also hailed Kalam`s decision to opt out of the race as “appropriate”.

“Former President Kalam is a very distinguished person. We have highest respect for him. We hold him in high esteem. If in his wisdom, he has taken a decision, it must obviously be an appropriate decision,” party spokesperson Manish Tewari said.

He dubbed as “resting on erroneous assumption” questions over Congress` options if Mamata walks out of the alliance.

He said the party “would like West Bengal chief minister and Trinamool Congress leader to support the candidature of Pranab Mukherjee”.

Tewari also pointed out that Pranab Mukherjee described the Trinamool Congress chief as his sister and had made a personal appeal to vote for him in the presidential election.

Replying to a query, Tewari dismissed as “very hypothetical” questions regarding Samajwadi Party joining the UPA ahead of the Presidential polls and said our appeal to all parties is for support to Mukherjee`s candidature”.

He also condemned Team Anna attacking Mukherjee saying it was “indeed very unfortunate that some people have got into the habit of making allegations against distinguished and senior leaders, who have spent decades in public life”.

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