February 26, 2009

West Bengal: Trinamool seeks tie-up with Congress

KOLKATA: A small section of Congress leaders in West Bengal may be more than keen to strike a deal with Trinamool Congress to fight the Lok Sabha elections jointly, but this cross-section has no role to play in finalising the deal with Mamata Banerjee. The Congress high command will finally decide on the issue.
"We can’t decide on fighting the coming Lok Sabha elections jointly with Trinamool Congress. We have already informed our party high command that we want an adjustment with Trinamool Congress. But a final decision in this regard will be taken by our party high command," leader of the Congress Legislative Party (CLP) Manas Bhunia said on Wednesday.
Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee is also aware of the situation which reasons her not attaching too much importance to hold talks with West Bengal Congress leaders. It is learnt that Mamata is holding talks with AICC leaders in Delhi regarding striking the deal with the Congress to take on the CPI(M) in the coming parliamentary elections. Mamata is maintaining silence on the issue and has reportedly assigned some of her trusted leaders to keep a close watch on state Congress leaders to gauge how many of them are serious about the alliance.
The AICC will hold a two-day session in Delhi from March 2 which will be attended by all state Congress presidents, legislative party leaders and party spokespersons. It is expected that the issue of a poll alliance in West Bengal will surface at the meeting and senior AICC leaders will try to ascertain from the West Bengal Congress leaders the electoral gains the Congress could achieve by striking a deal with Mamata Banerjee.
Meanwhile, second-ranking leaders of both the Congress and Trinamool Congress in West Bengal are continuing to run each other down. "Mamata Banerjee may be interested in striking a deal with our party to fight the elections jointly. But, her lieutenants are putting in all efforts to ruin the possibilities of finalising the seat-sharing. I request Mamata to identify her own party leaders who are on a mission to destroy the chances of a deal," Mr Bhunia said on Wednesday.
Mr Bhunia’s target was Partha Chatterjee, the opposition leader and Trinamool Congress MLA, who has made a scathing attack against external affairs minister and West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee (WBPCC) president Pranab Mukherjee, holding him responsible for helping out the CPI(M) in getting central funds for various developmental projects in West Bengal.

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