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Will it be BJP-Congress vs Left in Bengal?
December 16, 2005 11:47 IST
Last Updated: December 16, 2005 12:54 IST
If Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee has her way, the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress may find themselves on the same side of an electoral alliance for the first time ever.
Banerjee recently suggested that the BJP and the Congress must join the TC in a grand alliance to defeat West Bengal's ruling Left Front led by the Communist Party of India-Marxist in the 2006 assembly election.
Banerjee's call, though, has put the Congress leadership in a quandary.
"The party has not taken any decision on Mamata's call. It's a very complicated issue and the matter has to be discussed at the highest level. Our main task now is to strengthen the party organisation in West Bengal," state Congress working president Pradip Bhattacharya said.
Bhattacharya, who had recently discussed the issue with Defence Minister and WBPCC chief Pranab Mukherjee in Delhi, admitted a section of Congress leaders in the state wanted the party leadership to sit with the TC chief to discuss the matter.
Information and Broadcasting Minister and senior party leader P R Dasmunsi, a strong votary of alliance between the Congress and TC, had said the PCC chief would sit with Banerjee to discuss the possibility of forging a tie up.
What has confused the Congress rank and file is how the party will join Banerjee's grand alliance with the BJP as a constituent. Even party leaders, who favour such an alliance, have no idea about how this will be worked out.
Dasmunsi has ruled out the possibility of such an alliance with the BJP as a partner.
Some Congress leaders, who preferred anonymity, however, said that if not straightway, a behind-the-scene understanding with TC before the assembly election was possible even if it did not severe ties with the saffron party.
It is clear that the TC will not snap ties with the BJP, at least for now.
The TC chief recently held parleys with the BJP president Lal Kishenchand Advani and National Democratic Alliance Convenor George Fernandes.
Advani has agreed to inaugurate the Trinamool Youth Convention in Kolkata on December 18.
Justifying her call for a strategic alliance, Banerjee said her party has not raised any question about the Congress taking the support of the Left parties to run the UPA government at the Centre and asked the Congress leadership not to 'question our continuance in the NDA', she said.
Political observers said that notwithstanding the fact that the Congress received about eight per cent votes in the last assembly polls in the state, Banerjee does not want to change her alliance off and on.
She has in the past quit the NDA and rejoined it and severing ties with it once more would not augur well for her image.