Mamata gives Congress two-day ultimatum to seal alliance

March 10th, 2009 - 9:32 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Mar 10 (IANS) Incensed at the hard bargaining by the Congress, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee Tuesday said their alliance for the 42 Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal would be off if the Congress failed to finalise its stand in a day or two.
Ten days after the alliance was announced at a hurriedly called media briefing March 1, Banerjee virtually gave an ultimatum to the Congress, which has been claming more “winnable” seats in the southern part of the state from her party.

“Ten days are over. Still, we will be patient… We will wait for one or two days… If the alliance materialises, it’s well and good. We will fight together against the (state’s ruling Left Front major) Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M).”

“But if there is no alliance, then also there will no let-up in our commitment to oust the CPI-M from Bengal,” she told the media persons at her Kalighat residence.

Banerjee claimed that the Congress had agreed to field candidates in 14 seats during the March 1 meeting.

“They wanted some good seats apart from the six they won in 2004. We gave them Jalpaiguri and the new Malda (North). Then they wanted 48 hours’ time to brief their party president (Sonia Gandhi),” she said, adding ten days have passed since then.

“Time is running out. As it is, fighting the CPI-M in the state is tough. We have to fight against state terror,” she said.

“Three days back I was told to change two seats. I gave them Bankura instead of Bishnupur in the interest of the alliance,” Banerjee said, appealing to the Congress to close the deal if it was sincere in forming the alliance against the CPI-M.

On the reported comments of some Congress leaders that their party has been handed over mostly Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes seats, which are near impossible to win, Banerjee retorted: “Of 12 such seats in the state, we have chosen eight. Can’t they fight even in the remaining four?”

Banerjee pointed out that though the Congress bagged six seats in the 2004 Lok Sabha polls, it finished second in two and third in three, and lost its deposit in the remaining 31.

“Its stock further went down in last year’s panchayat polls. And they want all winnable seats. We are not asking for seats where they are strong,” she said.

Banerjee said All India Congress Committee general secretary in-charge of West Bengal K. Keshava Rao called her up from Delhi Monday night. “I asked him how long more do we have to wait? All sorts of things are appearing in the media.”

“He wanted some more days. I told him to decide soon. There is a limit up to which we can wait,” she said.

Banerjee alleged that the CPI-M was trying to sabotage the alliance so that the Congress-Trinamool did not come together.

Referring to her party’s seat adjustment with the Congress for the 2001 assembly polls, when dissent and factional feuds spelt doom for the alliance, she said: “This is 2009. We are ready to give our lives. But we will not give a walk over to the CPI-M. We will not allow any conspiracy benefiting the CPI-M to succeed”.

Meanwhile, senior Trinamool Congress functionary and Leader of the Opposition in the state assembly Partha Chatterjee announced that Banerjee would contest from Kolkata South constituency.

–Indo-Asian News service


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