Kolkatta: A combative Trinamool Congress on Monday night 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 in Kolkata.
"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.
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 Trinamool Congress would support former Lok Sabha speaker PA Sangma if he contested the presidential polls, Bandopadhyay said "we have not taken such a decision at the meeting. As the situation develops, the party will discuss and decide the future course of action."
He said the parliamentary party and the legislature party authorised the party chief to take a decision on the presidential polls.
Bandopadhyay, the Union minister of state for health, said Congress party was not 'capable enough' to run the government on its own strength.
"Congress is dependent on other parties, including Trinamool Congress, which is the second largest constituent of UPA. But if someone thinks we are in the government by force, then we will not hesitate to come out", he said.
"We may have our opinions which we can certainly place before the government. We as a major ally should not be taken for granted", Bandopadhyay said in apparent response to Congress leader Digivijay Singh's remarks that Mamata was an "immature" and "erratic" leader and suggested there is a "limit" to the patience of Congress.
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."
He said the party would try to keep Kalam in the Presidential race and "if he is still unmoved, we will again discuss the issue".
Justifying TMC's choice of Kalam as Presidential candidate, he said "our decision was appropriate and he would have been the "best President".