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Cong free to leave govt: Firhad

Calcutta, June 16: Trinamul minister Firhad Hakim today said Congress ministers were “free” to leave the government, the comments coming a day after state Congress leaders told the high command that party ministers were “feeling uncomfortable”.

“Congress ministers are free to leave the government if they are feeling uncomfortable staying with us. Nobody is holding them back,” Hakim, the urban development minister, told reporters on the sidelines of an event to inaugurate a water plant in Howrah.

He said the Trinamul-led government “won’t be affected at all” if the Congress ministers quit. “If they don’t like to continue with us, the doors are open.”

Several state Congress ministers, including Manoj Chakraborty and Sabina Yasmin, had earlier complained that they had been sidelined in the government. Chakraborty has quit as minister.

Abu Naser Khan Chowdhury, the minister of state for science and technology, today said he wanted to quit because he had “no work”. He added: “It is humiliating and insulting.”

Yesterday, the Congress legislature party had adopted a resolution condemning Mamata Banerjee’s “unethical opposition” to Pranab Mukherjee’s candidature for President.

Hakim tried to create divisions within the alliance partner, alleging that those in the state Congress who had not got minister’s posts were “envious of their party colleagues in the Mamata Banerjee government”.

State Congress president Pradip Bhattacharya said the party was “least bothered” about what Hakim had said. “The Congress is a responsible national party and always acts judiciously,” he added.

He reaffirmed that the Congress was “united” in its stand that it was time to dump Trinamul. “Every one of us, including our ministers, believes that the time has come to snap ties with Trinamul.”

Bhattacharya said more than 800 Trinamul activists had joined the Congress at an event in Swarupnagar, North 24-Parganas. “People are slowly getting disenchanted with Trinamul. That is why they are joining us.”