February 12, 2009

Our doors are still open for Mamata: BJP

Kolkata, Feb 11 : Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee is inching towards an alliance with the Congress in West Bengal for the Lok Sabha polls, but the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has still kept its doors open for its former ally.“We want an alliance with her. We have kept our doors open. But it is for Banerjee to decide,” state BJP president Satya Brata Mukherjee told mediapersons.

A day after Banerjee said she had not attended meetings of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) for the last four years, the Congress Tuesday withdrew its candidate from the Bishnupur West assembly constituency of South 24 Parganas district which is slated to go for a by-election Feb 26.

The Congress decision paved the way for a straight fight between the state’s ruling Left Front major Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and the Trinamool and brightened the prospects for a Lok Sabha poll tie-up between the two opposition forces. But Mukherjee said anything was possible. “If she is sincere in fighting the CPI-M, then she should stay away from the Congress, which will again join forces with the Marxist party after the polls.”

Asked how the BJP would fare without an alliance with the Trinamool in the state, Mukherjee said: “Well, neither Trinamool nor the CPI-M is going to form the government at the centre. The choice is between the BJP and the Congress. We will tell people how miserably the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) has fared on all fronts.

“We will also remind the people about our stint in power. I am sure people of this politically conscious state will take the right decision,” said the former union minister. The BJP drew a blank in the state during the 2004 Lok Sabha polls, where it fought alone. Earlier, fighting in alliance with the Trinamool, the BJP got one seat in 1998, and doubled the number of MPs from the state in the 1999 mid-term elections.

On whether former union minister and former MP Tapan Sikdar, now expelled from the BJP, would be given the ticket from his old constituency Dum Dum, Mukherjee said: “This decision has to be taken by our national leadership. But he is yet to rejoin the party.” The Lok Sabha elections are due in April-May.

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