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No Congress-Trinamool alliance in West Bengal
January 29, 2006 19:42 IST
As expected, the possibility of a Congress-Trinamool electoral tie-up in West Bengal ended in a whimper with Bharatiya Janata Party remaining the bone of contention.
A meeting between West Bengal Pradesh Congress President Pranab Mukherjee and Trinamool chief Mamta Banerjee burned oil till close to Saturday midnight making a vain attempt, though both kept doors open for further dialogues.
"The AICC Plenary at Hyderabad has made it clear that we cannot have any link with the BJP, which we consider a communal party. Though we also wish to defeat the ruling Left Front, we cannot think of an alliance with the Trinamool unless it comes out of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance," Mukherjee told reporters after the meeting.
The Pradesh Congress Committee, at an executive meeting on January 7, had also decided against having any truck with the BJP and called upon Mamta to lead an opposition alliance without communal forces.
Describing the BJP as a 'friend', Mamta criticised the Congress for trashing the alliance proposal and stuck to her point that the party would not sever ties with the NDA.
"The UPA government at the Centre enjoys Left support. That is why the Congress does not want to antagonise the Communist Party of India-Marxist. But we want to oust the CPI-M from the state and to do that we should not consider the BJP as untouchable," she said.
The Trinamool supremo, however, said she was not giving up hopes for an end to the deadlock and parleys between both sides would continue. "No word is the last word in politics. We will continue to strive to ensure that non-Left votes are not split," she said.
This was the scond time after December 31 that both the leaders held discussions over the proposed grand alliance.
"If Pranabda believes that there is scope for further discussions, I am ready for that," she said.
During the meeting Mamta stressed on the need for putting up 'one is to one' candidate against the Left Front in all constituencies to ensure that there was no clash of candidates from the opposition parties. She reiterated that the Congress should join the Trinamool-led nine-party Paschimbanga Ganatantrik Front, of which BJP is a partner.
However, citing his party's 'compulsion' at the national level, Mukherjee requested her to give a second thought over an alliance sans the BJP.
Though the failed meeting virtually ended hopes for a tie-up between the two parties, Trinamool Congress senior leader Pankaj Banerjee said the party was still hopeful about a positive outcome.
"We have made our stand clear. We have not asked the Congress to sever links with the CPI-M at the Centre. Congress should also not ask Trinamool to snap ties with the BJP. We still hope that the Congress will realise the ground reality in the state," he said.