Kolkata: Pushed on the backfoot after being isolated on the Presidential poll, Trinamool Congress on Monday night sent a terse message to Congress saying it is "mentally prepared to quit" the UPA government if forced to do so and should not be taken for granted.
"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 said.
The Trinamool threat came a day after Congress leader Digvijay Singh described Banerjee as an "erratic" leader and that there is a "limit" to which one can "bend" as certain eventualities have to be faced if they cannot be avoided.
Singh was reflecting his angst over Banerjee's dramatic rejection of UPA's Presidential nominees and her continued defiance. The Congress on Monday distanced itself from his comments saying he was not officially authorised to speak to the media.
Banerjee has faced a double blow in quick succession first when Mulayam Singh ditched her by backing UPA Presidential nominee Pranab Mukherjee and then APJ Abdul Kalam, who she named as her candidate, declaring that he will not contest.
Bandopadhyay, the union minister of state for health, said that the Congress party was not "capable enough" to run the government on its own strength.
"The Congress is dependent on other parties, including the Trinamool Congress, which is the second largest constituent of the UPA," he said, adding, "We as a major ally should not be taken for granted."
"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 APJ Abdul Kalam announced his decision to opt out of the presidential race.
Bandhopadhyay said, "We will be happy if Kalam reconsiders his decision. We will take the final decision regarding what will be our stand in regard to the presidential poll after the nomination is over."
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."
Asked whether the Trinamool Congress would support former Lok Sabha speaker PA Sangma if he contested the presidential polls, he said, "We have not taken such a decision at the meeting. As the situation develops the party will sit and decide the future course of action." He said that the parliamentary party and the legislature party authorised the party chief to take a decision on the presidential polls.