Asserting that Trinamool will not rock the United Progressive Alliance boat, party leader and Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi went into damage control mode on Thursday after his remarks that the country may head for a mid-term poll and the Union government was lame duck created a flutter in political circles.
"This was just a forum. The forum is known as Idea Exchange. I have given my opinion as an individual, not as a minister or a Trinamool Congress member," Trivedi said a day after claiming that after the results of assembly elections, the Samajwadi Party and even the Trinamool Congress would want to see a mid-term poll so that they "can increase their tally" in Parliament.
Talking to PTI, he said, "As an individual, I have freedom of expression and to analyse the political situation."
He emphasised that it was merely an idea exchange platform and not a statement on the present political situation.
Trivedi also said that Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is "not the person who will rock the (UPA) boat".
Leaders close to Mamata expressed annoyance at Trivedi's statement ahead of the Budget Session.
Congress sought to downplay Trivedi's remarks, saying the UPA government at the Centre will last its full term.
Congress leaders and Union ministers Jayanthi Natarajan and Rajeev Shukla said the government was "very much stable" and the Lok Sabha elections will take place only in 2014.
"We have very good relationship with all our allies. The Congress president has already said that we'll continue to engage with all our allies and that this government will last its full term," Natarajan said.
Talking to a leading English daily, Trivedi had on Wednesday said, "Why only TMC? I feel after yesterday's results...if I was Samajwadi Party, I would be very happy to have a general election tomorrow so I can increase my tally because I have the momentum. The Trinamool Congress may also be happy to have a mid-term poll now rather than two years later.
"If there is a perception that there is an anti-Congress feeling (in the country), then, obviously, even the BJP would want an election now. So if everybody wants an election, there will be election."
Clarifying his remarks on Wednesday, Trivedi said elections are an expensive exercise and a mid-term poll is not good for the country in terms of expenses and "uncertainty."
Trivedi also said "...and you can't think of a better prime minister than Manmohan Singh. It is Singh who has got the economic acumen. He is a man who understands economy and that is why India has been isolated and insulated in terms of the meltdown."
"As a student of politics, I was analysing the political situation and it had nothing to do with my party or I as a part of the UPA government," he said.
When asked about his statement that there will be no big ticket reforms that will get passed in the Budget Session, he repeated that it was just an idea exchange.
On whether he was retracting from his views, he said, "I stand by what I have said but you have to understand that it was an idea exchange programme and not my views as a minister or a TC member. It should not be taken in any other context."
Trivedi had earlier said given the restiveness of the regional allies and their gains, not much could be expected in the Budget Session of Parliament.
"Today we are almost in a position of a status quo, nothing big ticket will get sanctioned (in Parliament). It will be very difficult even to run this Parliament because everybody is aspiring and everybody feels we are in a critical situation," Trivedi had said.
He had also said that "if I am in a situation and a position of a lame duck, then I think it may be a good idea to call it a day," when asked about the UPA government finding itself in a 'policy paralysis.'
"A Trinamool Congress minister should not have made such a statement ahead of Budget Session as it creates unnecessary mistrust," said a senior Trinamool leader.
The TC Parliamentary Party will meet on Friday evening in Kolkata during which the issue is likely to be discussed. When asked whether Trivedi will be present there, sources said all party MPs are expected to attend the meet to be chaired by Banerjee.