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Mamata plays hardball,foxed Cong looks to Delhi

While Congress leaders in the state are rooting for a seat-sharing arrangement with the Trinamool Congress on their own terms instead of just going in for a tie-up...

Written by Express News Service | Kolkata |
January 23, 2009 2:31:06 am

While Congress leaders in the state are rooting for a seat-sharing arrangement with the Trinamool Congress on their own terms instead of just going in for a tie-up,Mamata Banerjee’s party is playing the hard ball,with its leaders saying they would not part with seats in south Bengal where the TMC is on a stronger footing.

State Congress leaders are eagerly waiting for AICC general secretary in-charge of West Bengal Mohsina Kidwai who is due to visit the state on February 7. The say the majority sentiment in the party is in favour of a seat-sharing deal with the Trinamool.

Senior Congress leader Subrata Mukherjee said there is no question of forming a front or political alliance with Mamata Banerjee. “We want to go in for seat-sharing all over the state,” Mukherjee.

Sources in the Congress said since the Trinamool is still an NDA partner officially,a political front would be possible only if it dissociates from the BJP-led coalition. “It has been evident since 2006,she has been keeping a distance from the BJP at the state-level. Therefore,there is no problem in going for seat-sharing,” they said.

“There are many questions,both ideological and organisational,regarding the formation of a common platform with the Trinamool. After due deliberation within the party,we have listed all issues in a memorandum that has since been submitted to the party high command. Now,everything is up to our central leadership,” said Manas Bhuniya,a Congress leader.

Party sources said around 20 seats have been identified by the state Congress leaders in north Bengal,based on the results of the 2004 LS polls. Of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in the state,the Congress had emerged on top in six and the TMC in one,with the rest going to the Left Front. Of these 35 constituencies,the Congress claimed they had come off second in 18 seats. In the rest,the TMC bagged second the place.

The state Congress says the TMC should not field any candidate in those constituencies where the Congress stood second. But Trinamool sources said Banerjee was not in favour of keeping away from the fray in so many seats in north Bengal,a traditional stronghold of the Congress.

“Mamata didi has indicated that not more than seven seats would be left uncontested in north Bengal. Of course,there is no question of sharing seats with the Congress in south Bengal,where we are strong,” Trinamool sources said.

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