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Tie-up is on,says Mamata; Pranab counts Cong gains

Suspense deepened over the pre-poll alliance between the Congress and the Trinamool Congress on Saturday...

Written by Express News Service | Kolkata/siliguri | Published: March 8, 2009 2:14:07 am

Suspense deepened over the pre-poll alliance between the Congress and the Trinamool Congress on Saturday,with the former hinting at some sticking points while the latter saying decks have been cleared and it’s only a matter of time they would be able to release the list of their respective candidates.

While Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee said in Kolkata that the alliance with the Congress was on course,External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee,who is also the state Congress chief,said in Siliguri an alliance would be of no use to his party if some winnable seats were not allocated to it in addition to the six it has.

“We are moving forward and differences over only a few Lok Sabha seats are delaying the process to some extent,” the Trinamool chief said,adding the list of her party’s candidates would be released soon.

“There has not been any uncertainty over sharing of seats between my party and the Congress. If we are asked to release the list of our candidates,we can do so any time. But we have certain political compulsion,” she said,signalling she is waiting for the Congress to come out with an acceptable seat-sharing formula.

Krishnanagar Lok Sabha seat has become a bone of contention between the Congress and the Trinamool. While the Congress plans to field Mahua Moitra,a high-profile member of the youth Congress,Trinamool wants to bring in Tapas Pal,a Bengali cine star,to fight for the constituency.

However,in a sign of reconciliation,a senior Trinamool leader said on Saturday that Banerjee might allow the Congress to contest the Krishnanagar seat.

The tug-of-war between the two Opposition parties began after the Congress demanded a few extra seats from Trinamool even after the two sides agreed to seat-sharing formula,which was to allow the Trinamool to contest 28 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal while the Congress would fight in 14. The Congress,however,demanded some extra seats like Alipurduar,Birbhum and Howrah.

The Trinamool’s core committee is likely to meet on Monday on the issue and sources said Banerjee is in touch with the AICC.

Meanwhile,the external affairs minister,who was addressing party workers in Siliguri on Saturday,seemed firm on his party’s demand. “In politics,an alliance is formed for a number of reasons. An alliance is forged to increase a party’s strength,not to decrease it,” Mukherjee said. “Both parties should accept this in principle,” he added.

“Discussions are still on and you will know when it will be finalised. But at the same time,we are not sitting idle. If the alliance is formed it will be formed,if it is not,we have to fight this Lok Sabha election (on our own). But we have to continue preparations,” he said.

Mukherjee,together with AICC leader in-charge of the state K Keshava Rao,had held a meeting with Banerjee on Sunday last and said the Congress and Trinamool Congress would jointly fight the ruling Left Front in West Bengal.

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