Alliance should increase party’s strength: Pranab

March 7th, 2009 - 10:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Siliguri/Kolkata, March 7 (IANS) Putting pressure on the Trinamool Congress, with which his party is bargaining hard for a poll alliance in West Bengal, state Congress chief and External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee Saturday said a pact would not be supported by grassroots workers if it did not promise an increase in seats for both partners.
Averring that a major aim of an alliance is to raise the strength of a political party and not to diminish it, Mukherjee said at a public meeting in Siliguri: “If that is not so, then the alliance may be accepted by the upper levels of both parties, but the grassroots workers will not find it palatable.”

A day after Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee showed impatience over the delay in finalising the deal, Mukherjee urged her to be a bit more patient.

“I will report the entire matter to the Congress president (Sonia Gandhi). She will take the final decision. Till then, the Trinamool Congress will have to wait,” he added.

With the Congress claiming more winnable seats to increase the tally of six it bagged from the state in the 2004 polls, the alliance is yet to take a final shape.

Banerjee had earlier said her party would like to contest 28 Lok Sabha seats, leaving 14 of the total 42 in the state for the Congress.

The Congress has asked for seats like Bankura, Srerampore and Krishnanagar, where it feels it has greater chance of winning. The Trinamool has so far been loathe to part with these seats.

Meanwhile, in Kolkata, Banerjee said there was no uncertainty over the alliance. “They have asked us to wait. Either party can make the formal announcement of the pact. If they ask us to make the announcement, we can.”

Asked whether the two prospective partners had discussed issues apart from the seats, Banerjee replied in the negative. “If that one (the seat-sharing formula) is finalised, other matters will also be sorted out.”

Speaking to reporters at her residence, Banerjee announced that Abanai Joardar - a retired deputy inspector general of police - had joined her party. “We have included him in the campaign committee. We will use him in our campaign.”

Last Sunday, Mukherjee and Banerjee announced that the two parties had decided to fight the Lok Sabha polls together against the Left Front, which has been ruling the state for 32 years.

The three-phase elections in the state are slated for April 30, May 7 and May 13.

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