Every time there is an election in Bengal,there are talks of an alliance between the Congress party and Trinamool Congress.
Though the Trinamool Congress was formed in 1998,after breaking away from the Congress,the alliance talks have been witnessed since 2001,when the state went for Assembly elections.
In the 2004 Lok Sabha and 2006 Assembly polls,the talks for an alliance had remained inconclusive as both the parties faced off each other. But with general elections approaching,the process for an alliance is underway once again.
Pranab Mukherjee and Mamata Banerjee have already had a meeting in Delhi to work out a formula for an electoral adjustment. Sources in both the parties,however,feel that there will be a repeat of what happened in 2004 and 2006,when talks failed and in Bengal the opposition vote was divided to the benefit of the ruling Left combine.
Mamata,after the formation of the Trinamool Congress,joined the BJP-led NDA and became minister twice in the Atal Behari Vajpayee-led Union Government.
Before the 2001 Assembly polls,Mamata quit the post of Railway Minister after the Tehelka expose. Since then she has kept equidistance from the BJP and Congress,a stand which she officially maintains till date.
On Monday,with chances of an alliance with the Congress looking brighter,she said there was no question of her tying up with the BJP or NDA.
After she quit the Railway Ministry,the Congress had thought she would be back in the party and thus initiated talks with her. Before elections,Mamata met Congress president Sonia Gandhi but nothing came out of it.
Only in 2001,the talks gained ground and a formal alliance was chalked out. Seat adjustments between the Congress and Trinamool took a final shape before the Assembly elections.
There was an electoral alliance in 276 of the 294 seats in the Assembly. There was friendly contest in the rest of the 18 seats. The Congress allowed the Trinamool to contest from 229 seats. The elections saw the Congress-Trinamool alliance bagging around 90 seats.
On every occasion,it has been seen that quite a few Congress leaders have been opposed to the idea of an alliance. This time is no exception,though the faces have changed.
On several occasions earlier,Somen Mitra led the block of opposition to an adjustment with Mamata. Now,though he himself has broken away from the Congress and joined the Mamata camp,new faces like Deepa Dasmunsi and Adhir Chowdhury are opposed to an alliance.
Leaders in the Congress explained the reason: “Mamata Banerjee does not keep in mind the national political scenario. For the Congress,national politics is more important. Another factor is that an alliance between the mother party and a breakaway group is always difficult. The year 2001 was an exception when we thought that it was necessary to keep the BJP at bay.”