Jolted by Trinamool, Congress to wait for Sonia’s return (Lead)

March 18th, 2011 - 10:55 pm ICT by IANS  

Mamata Banerjee New Delhi/Kolkata, March 18 (IANS) Presented with a fait accompli by Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee on seat-sharing arrangement for the West Bengal assembly polls, the Congress is waiting for party chief Sonia Gandhi to return from London to make its moves.

“We will wait for the return of Congress president Sonia Gandhi to take a final decision,” said Shakeel Ahmed, AICC general secretary who is in charge of the party’s affairs in West Bengal.

Sonia Gandhi is in London where her ailing mother is undergoing treatment, sources in the Congress said.

The Congress was presented a take-it-or-leave-it option after Mamata Banerjee announced the names of her party’s 228 candidates and their constituencies in Kolkata Friday. The Trinamool Congress supremo has left only 64 seats for the Congress to contest.

Apparently this number is far short of the 90 seats that the Congress is seeking from the Trinamool Congress.

The unilateral announcement of 228 candidates by the Trinamool Congress has come as a surprise for the Congress circles.

The announcement came in the midst of the report that Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee might go to Kolkata to hold talks with Trinamool leader, the Congress sources said.

“We are a political party and we should always be prepared for any eventuality. It’s a new development and we will discuss the issue within our party and come out with a comprehensive statement very soon,” Shakeel Ahmed told IANS.

“Pranab-da (Pranab Mukherjee) had said that talks are inconclusive and we had differences over a few seats and also the quantity and quality of the seats. It was said that we would discuss it again. But somehow she (Mamata Banerjee) unilaterally announced the list today,” Ahmed said.

Talks between Pranab Mukherjee and Mamata Banerjee Thursday were inconclusive as both sides could not reach an agreement on seat-sharing for the April 18-May 10 assembly elections in the state.

State Congress president Manas Bhuniya, while exuding confidence that discussions could still solve the imbroglio, said the people of West Bengal wanted an alliance between the Congress and Trinamool.

“The people of Bengal want an alliance between Congress and Trinamool. I am not taking this announcement with a negative note and I have full confidence on the process of discussion,” he said in Kolkata.

However, state Congress leader and Murshidabad strongman Adhir Choudhury expressed his disappointment and said, “She (Banerjee) could have announced the list for the remaining 64 seats also. Who could have stopped her?”

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