Discontent in Congress over likely tie-up with Trinamool

March 1st, 2009 - 6:52 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, March 1 (IANS) The road to a possible alliance between the Congress and the Trinamool Congress for the Lok Sabha polls looked beset with thorns Sunday, with some West Bengal Congress leaders demanding that the Trinamool bigwigs either withdraw their disparaging comments about the state Congress president or apologise.
Emerging from a meeting between Congress general secretary K. Keshava Rao and top state Congress leaders, Congress legislator Deepa Dasmunsi accused some Trinamool Congress leaders, including party chief Mamata Banerjee, of making personal attacks on state Congress president Pranab Mukherjee.

“They are humiliating our state president publicly and before the media. And at the same time they are keeping the door open for an alliance. Doesn’t this smack of double standards?” asked Dasmunsi, wife of ailing Congress veteran Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi.

“They lack courtesy. They should either withdraw the remarks or apologise,” Dasmunsi said.

Keshava Rao, who flew into the city Sunday morning, began parleys to decide on a possible alliance with the Trinamool for the April-May elections.

“I listened to the words of all our state-level leaders who attended the meeting this morning. And talks are on within the party. We believe that if any respectable accord can be reached, we may form an alliance,” Rao said after the first round of discussions.

Mukherjee, who was busy with some official functions in the city Sunday morning, was not present in the initial round of talks.

Late in the afternoon, the Congress leaders resumed their discussion, which Mukherjee attended.

On speculation that the Congress had demanded 16 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in the state but the Trinamool was prepared to part with only 12, Rao indicated that apart from a good number of seats, the Congress has also set its sights on bagging winnable constituencies.

“We believe quality and quantity both are needed,” he said.

Dasmunsi said the views of the grassroot workers of the party will be kept in mind before finalising the alliance.

After Mukherjee obliquely attacked Mamata Banerjee for derailing the state’s development projects, Trinamool Congress leader Partha Chakraborty dubbed the veteran Congressman “a spokesman” of the state’s ruling Left Front major Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M).

Banerjee had also criticised Mukherjee - external affairs minister - for attending foundation stone laying ceremonies in the company of CPI-M ministers so close to the Lok Sabha polls, and asked him to sway away from such programmes. But Mukherjee did not pay heed to her calls.

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