New Delhi: Mamata Banerjee will be missing at dinner when the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) celebrates three years in office of its second term tonight at Prime Minister Manmmohan Singh’s residence. And unlike another ally, the DMK’s M Karunanidhi, who has sent regrets saying he is too ill to attend, the Trinamool Congress chief has not really made a strong excuse for her absence.
This effectively means that that the heads of the Congress’ two biggest allies will be missing at the PM’s dinner. While Mr Karunanidhi has cited poor health, Ms Banerjee’s decision to stay away comes at a time when there is growing uneasiness between her party and the Congress after she failed to coerce the Centre into giving a special financial package for West Bengal. PTI has quoted Railway Minister and Mamata aide Mukul Roy as saying that though a “personal invitation” had been sent to Ms Banerjee, she would not attend because of her “pre-occupation” in the state. Bot the DMK and the Trinamool will be represented at the dinner.
This evening, the government will also release a report card on its performance before it sits down to the celebratory dinner.
Not that the mood in the mood is particularly festive. The government is grappling with runaway prices, a plunging rupee and a growth slowdown. It is under constant attack from the opposition which has accused it of a lack of leadership and policy paralysis. It has been afforded the opportunity to make that last accusation largely because of allies like Mamat Banerjee who has brandished her numbers in the coalition time and again to scutlle important policy decisions and key economic legislations like Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in retail .
This evening, the government will also release a report card on its performance. As it gets into the final run-up to the 2014 general elections in 2014.
Those coalition compulsions have made it a tough year for the Congress-led UPA, which had a far smoother run in its first term, despite the uneasy partnership and eventual fallout with the Left parties. In that term, the Manmohan Singh government had pushed decisions regardless of pressures.