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Pranab dials Left,they keep him on hold but don’t hang up

CRISIS: In West Bengal,Cong and Left echo each other: Her Kalam choice shows she is keeping the NDA option open

Written by Manoj C G | New Delhi | Published: June 14, 2012 9:44:11 pm

IN the season of U-turns,shifting and re-shifting alignments,the West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee and the CPM in West Bengal echoed each other charging Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee with “keeping her option for the NDA camp” open by insisting on the name of A P J Abdul Kalam as the Presidential candidate.

Although the BJP hasn’t made it official but many of its leaders have said that they would have no objection to Kalam’s candidature.

Speaking to The Indian Express,WBPCC chief Pradip Bhattacharjee said: “It is now more than clear that Mamata Banerjee is taking a clear anti-Congress and pro-BJP stand. She has changed her stance clearly. Her choice of candidate is enough indication to this direction. She should remember that Mulayam Singh will never be with her for long in such a venture.”

Saying that the state unit would like to break away from the TMC but that’s a decision for the central leadership to make,Bhattacharjee said: “It’s an all-out confrontation with the TMC in Bengal now. Our leaders,supporters have had enough of Mamata Banerjee who has crossed all limits of political decency. A party with merely 4% of the vote share in the Presidential election is behaving like it controls everything.”

CPM state secretariat member Robin Deb,asked about Kalam’s candidature,responded similarly: “Banerjee’s choice of Dr Kalam is a clear indication of the side she is trying to align with and fall back on. She is keeping her options open for the NDA.”

Meanwhile,Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee called up CPM Politburo members Sitaram Yechury and Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee this morning calling for Left’s support for his candidature. Bhattacharjee,sources said,told him that the Congress should officially propose his name and only then the CPM could take a stand. Besides,the four Left parties would also meet and decide on their support.

Later,Biman Bose said that the CPM would not take any “unilateral decision.” The matter would be placed before the CPM central committee and the Politburo and also before other Left parties before taking a stand. Some within the CPM thought that CPI leader Gurudas Das Gupta had been too hasty in saying his party would not support any Congress candidate.

CPM general secretary Prakash Karat discussed the developments with CPI leader A B Bardhan,CPI General Secretary S Sudhakar Reddy and Forward Bloc’s Debabrata Biswas. A section of the CPM leadership is said to be of the view that supporting a Congress candidate when it’s fighting the UPA and planning to launch an agitation against its economic polices will send a wrong signal.

“We are not committed to the UPA. We are not bound by anything. We will decide our stand after the Congress tells us who their choice is,” a top CPM leader said. Having said that,the Left leaders felt the bloc will be forced to take a difficult decision — in other words back the UPA nominee — in the event of an evenly poised contest between the NDA and the UPA. This could happen if the NDA throws its weight behind Kalam.

Bardhan added a new dimension to the race. Invoking Mahatma Gandhi,he said the father of the nation has said “one good thing…among many other good things that a Dalit woman should be made President. He,however,refrained from revealing his choice when asked whether he had Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar in mind. “Sorry. I am not taking any names,” he said. Bardhan parried questions on Mukherjee’s candidature.

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