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Mamata signals to Congress for poll alliance
Pradip Kumar Chakraborty in Kolkata | October 15, 2005 10:32 IST
In a signal to the Congress, Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee has formed a platform of nine smaller opposition parties of West Bengal to prepare the ground for a 'grand alliance' for the coming Assembly elections in the state.
Fully aware that a fight against the formidable Communist Party of India (Marxist) cannot be organised without the help of Congress, Mamata has enlisted the support of marginal players like Samajwadi Party and Rashtriya Janata Dal to create an impression that anti-CPI(M) forces in the state are trying to regroup under her leadership.
Samajwadi Party and RJD do not have any noteworthy base in West Bengal but the inclusion of the two parties in Mamata's platform, according to sources close to her, is aimed at giving an impression of a broadbased alliance of anti-CPI(M) parties.
This is a tactical move by Mamata, as she now needs to mobilise all forces involved to fight the Marxists. For this reason, she has also included a breakway group of CPI(M) led by Sumanta Hira, a former chief whip of the Left Front Legislature party.
Mamata is conscious not to antagonise Congress as only Trinamool Congress and Congress together constitute the broader opposition in the state. This was why she extended invitation to Congress to her party's convention last week.
The West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee responded by saying it will give moral support to her movement. PCC wants Mamata to quit NDA and join forces with it in the fight against CPI(M).
Congress is aware of the compulsions of politics in Delhi, for which it cannot openly join hands with Trinamool Congress as long as it is with NDA. But it is also aware of the ground realities in West Bengal that Mamata is still regarded the main opposition and it is only through a tactical understanding with her party that it can win some seats.
Mamata's move to forge a broader anti-CPI(M) platform comes weeks after a similar experiment by Congress, which had set up an alliance with some smaller parties, failed.
Commenting on Mamata's efforts to forge a broadbase alliance, state Congress president Pradip Bhattacherjee told PTI that it was high time the two parties close ranks and unite to give a tough fight in the next elections. "The divisions in the opposition is helping the CPI(M)-led Left Front to win elections after elections," he said.
He said CPI(M)'s 'resounding victory in the recent by-election to Asansol Lok Sabha seat should be a lesson for us to close our ranks. Mamata should remember that BJP has only four percent votes. She should dump BJP and quit NDA to join hands with us.'
Trinamool Congress, now busy drumming up support for fight against CPI(M), has chosen the issue of transferring agricultural land for industrial and real estate projects. Taking no chances, the CPI(M) too has unleashed its most eloquent campaigners to present the government's views and defend its decisions.
Veteran party leader Jyoti Basu spoke at a public meeting in Jadavpur in defence of the deal with Indonesia's Salim Group to set up various projects in the state. The CPI(M) leadership argued that since the state had already achieved self-sufficiency in foodgrains, it is time to set up new industries and generate employment.
Industry Minister Nirupam Sen had said at a recent meeting that with plenty of farm and fallow land having already been taken over by real estate dealers, only planned urbanisation can reverse the trend.