|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
WB polls: Cong throws ball in Trinamool's court
Sunil Gatade in New Delhi | March 19, 2006 16:28 IST
Buoyed by its prospects in Kerala, Congress has stepped up pressure on Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee for a tie-up in West Bengal telling her to decide by Monday whether it was ready to align with it in assembly polls to throw Marxists out of power.
"We cannot be party to any front in which Bharatiya Janata Party is a part. Mamata has to decide whether she wants to fight Marxists or Congress. We are determined to fight the Marxists. Banerjee has to decide whether she wants a secular front," All India Congress Committee General Secretary Margaret Alva told PTI.
Throwing the ball in Trinamool Congress court, Alva said time was short, as the Congress Screening Committee for scrutiny of candidates would start its work on Monday. Alva, who is in-charge of party affairs in West Bengal, said Mamata had to decide whether she wants to 'go with three per cent vote of the BJP or 20 per cent vote of the Congress.'
The AICC general secretary has held talks with the Trinamool Congress leader at least twice during the past one month, but the issue of alliance had failed to materialise due to several reasons, including Mamata's party being a part of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance.
Alva's statement came a day after the Trinamool Congress and the BJP failed to reach an understanding on seat sharing despite a lengthy meeting between Banerjee and BJP General Secretary Arun Jaitley. Her statement also coincided with political developments in Kerala, marked by problems in the Communist Party of India (Marxist) on the leadership issue on the one hand and talks between Congress and Democratic Indira Congress-K, headed by K Karunakaran, on seat-sharing on the other.
The Congress and the Trinamool had an alliance in the last assembly polls when the Mamata-led party had come out of the NDA. This time the CPM-led Left parties have been key outside supporters of the Congress-led coalition at the Centre.
The idea of one-to-one fight with the Marxist-led Left Front, in power in West Bengal for the past 30 years, has also not gone ahead. West Bengal goes to polls in five phases next month.