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Waiting for a tie-up,Mamata bleeds Cong

Even as the proposed grand alliance between the Congress and the Trinamool Congress ahead of the Lok Sabha polls is running into rough weather,Mamata Banerjee could not care less as more Congress stalwarts line up to join her party.

Written by Ravik Bhattacharya | Kolkata | January 21, 2009 3:02:18 am

Even as the proposed grand alliance between the Congress and the Trinamool Congress ahead of the Lok Sabha polls is running into rough weather,Mamata Banerjee could not care less as more Congress stalwarts line up to join her party.

The reason for the Trinamool chief’s confidence — she said a day ago she was ready for ekla chalo if Congress does not decide anytime soon — is that her party has been able to make a dent even in North Bengal,considered a Congress stronghold.

While Gautam Chakraborty,a Congress stalwart from Malda,has agreed to switch sides,others like Somen Mitra and Sudip Bandopadhyay have already defected to the TMC,upsetting the Congress leaders who opposed a tie-up with Mamata.

The defections halted for the past two months amid talks of an alliance between the two parties,but have begun afresh after bitter vibes have literally put paid to any hopes of a grand alliance between the Congress and the TMC.

“We want a grand alliance to prevent division of anti-CPM votes in Bengal. But if the Congress does not want to go for it,we will go it alone. We are prepared for any situation. At this moment,if political leaders and workers from any party want to join us,our leader Mamata Banerjee will decide and take them in,” said Partho Chatterjee,Leader of the Opposition. “We are not breaking any party. But if someone wants to join us,it is their decision,” he added.

According to party sources,though Trinamool has gained ground in South Bengal,it cannot bag seats in North Bengal,which is a Congress stronghold,and so the party is eyeing potential defectors to create a base there.

According to a senior TMC leader,Chakraborty has recently shown his keenness to join the TMC. “He is waiting for Mamata’s signal,” he said.

“I had a talk with Mukul Roy when he recently visited Malda. I also spoke to Mamata. I have proposed that Chakraborty should be in our North Bengal core committee. I will take him to Kolkata on January 22,” said Babla Sarkar,Malda district TMC president.

District leaders said not only in Malda but leaders and workers of Congress in Cooch Behar,North and South Dinajpur are also keen to join the TMC.

“With Priyaranjan Dasmunshi not here,there is a vacuum in North Bengal. Secondly,issues like Singur and Nandigram have made a great impact here and are helping us expand our base here,” added Sarkar.

Meanwhile,Congress leaders are looking forward to the alliance before the polls.

Senior Congress leader Subrata Mukherjee said: “A few leaders switching sides will not have any effect. However,talks are still on for a grand alliance and there have been four meetings between top leaders of both parties. One should see the alliance materialising.”

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