Sat, 07 Jan 2012 20:25:47 GMT

Freezing ties: Mamata challenges Congress to walk out

Kolkata/New Delhi: In an indication that all is not well within the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA), West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee Saturday threw an open challenge to partner Congress to walk out of the combine.

This is the first time Banerjee has spoken so bitterly and openly against the Congress after the ties between the two parties - allies in the central and state governments - worsened in recent months over various issues.

"If Congress feels they can go with (the Communist Party of India-Marxist) CPI-M, they can do it. The door is open. We can do (run the state government) it alone," Banerjee said in West Bengal. The fiery comments came a day after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Friday said problems with Congress allies were "temporary" and would be overcome with "will" and "determination".

The Congress in New Delhi downplayed the Mamata challenge saying disagreements were part of coalition politics. "In a coalition arrangement, disagreements do occur. Disagreements are valued in a coalition. These issues would be sorted out," Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi told reporters in the capital.

Banerjee, however, minced no words in lashing out at the Congress accusing it of spreading canards against her party because she opposed the central government's key policy decisions and blocked crucial bills, including the anti-corruption Lokpal legislation in parliament.

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