In poll season,thaw in Bengal Cong-CPM chill

It's just a straw in the political wind but there have been so many such straws of late that political circles in West Bengal are abuzz with talk of a warming up between the CPM and the Congress-so bitterly separated after the trust vote last year-in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections.

Written by Subrata Nagchoudhury | Kolkata | Published:February 8, 2009 4:16 am

On the backfoot,CPM joins Pranab in mutual admiration,makes Mamata wary

It’s just a straw in the political wind but there have been so many such straws of late that political circles in West Bengal are abuzz with talk of a warming up between the CPM and the Congress — so bitterly separated after the trust vote last year — in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections.

Today was the latest in what is evidently a pattern: an event showcasing leaders of the CPM — on the backfoot after the setback in rural polls — in the company of Union Minister Pranab Mukherjee who was recently appointed as the state Congress chief.

The flagging off of a new train from Kolkata to Murshidabad district — Mukherjee’s home constituency — became a forum for mutual admiration ahead of the Left launching its election campaign tomorrow.

That perhaps prompted Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee — herself sending conflicting signals on an alliance with the Congress — to come out today in Singur to say: “It’s clear that the Congress is not honest in fighting the CPM.” She may have a reason.

At the railway function,Mukherjee was flanked by no less than half a dozen CPM and Left MPs and ministers,from Md. Salim and Subhas Chakraborty to Amitava Nandi,Sudhanshu Seal,Basudev Acharya and Abani Roy.

Seal,the CPM MP from Kolkata North West,started it. “For us,Pranabda is not only holding charge of finance and external affairs portfolios. For us,he holds charge of all the departments in Delhi,” he said,underlining how the Hazarduari Express was a reality only because of Mukherjee.

Said Nandi,CPM MP from Dum Dum: “Pranabda represents Bengal. When it comes to development there has to be a joint,concerted effort,” Nandi said. Salim called Mukherjee a “respected national leader”.

In the last fortnight,West Bengal has received “in-principle” clearance for the chemical hub in Nayachar (the alternative to Nandigram) and the go-ahead of the Union Health Ministry for a Rs 825-crore AIIMS-type specialty hospital at Raiganj,the home constituency of Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi.

And at today’s event,CPM sources confirmed that Finance Minister Asim Dasgupta was scheduled to visit Mukherjee’s house later in the day.

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