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Mamata,Pranab go back a long,rocky way

Mukherjee must be rueing the day he had intervened to get Didi Cong ticket in 1984 Lok Sabha polls.

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi | Published: June 14, 2012 2:35:57 am

As Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday delivered a blow to Pranab Mukherjee’s presidential aspirations,the Finance Minister must be rueing the day he had intervened to get her a Congress ticket in the 1984 Lok Sabha elections.

While it had propelled her as a leader to reckon with in state politics,the bonhomie between the two was to last just a few years till Mamata bid to become the state Youth Congress president in 1990. Mukherjee was said to have made an unsuccessful attempt to thwart her appointment by conveying his reservations to Rajiv Gandhi,and she nursed a grudge against him for that. The relationship between the two hit the downward curve from then on.

Mamata is also believed to have taken to heart the fact that during the ticket distribution exercise for the 1996 Assembly elections,she was made to wait for several hours outside then party general secretary Janardan Dwivedi’s house as he remained closeted with Mukherjee. Most of her supporters had failed to get tickets then.

Things again came to a head in 1997 when she was contesting against Somen Mitra,a Mukherjee protege,in the organisational elections. After she lost the election,she had called on then party president Sitaram Kesri and requested him to appoint her chairman of the campaign committee. Kesri was said to have humiliated her at that meeting. Soon she was to quit the Congress and form the All India Trinamool Congress. The rest is history.

Mukherjee’s supporters in the Congress claim that Banerjee was always too “impetuous” to follow party discipline. “Even when she was in the Congress,she held demonstrations against the industries minister as also the railway minister during the Congress regime at the Centre,” pointed out a Congress leader from West Bengal.

Her distrust towards Mukherjee further deepened as he engaged with the Left parties when they were supporting the UPA government from outside.

Once Mamata became a minister in UPA II,she did make some attempts to mend fences with Mukherjee. On his 75th birthday in 2009,for instance,she along with her MPs trooped into his Lok Sabha chamber and cut a cake. But such bonhomie turned out to be more of an aberration. In February 2010,Mamata was reduced to tears at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure as Mukherjee took her to task for trying to push about two dozen railway projects worth around Rs 15,000 crore just six days ahead of the Railway Budget.

Mamata is believed to have decided to get back at Pranab after her landslide victory in the West Bengal Assembly elections last year,which put her in a commanding position vis-a-vis the Centre — a fact she has not let either side forget.

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