PM assures Mamata all help but can’t attend swearing in (Lead)

May 16th, 2011 - 9:16 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, May 16 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Monday pledged all help to Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee in speedily developing West Bengal, but said he won’t be able to attend her swearing-in as chief minister due to prior commitments.

Banerjee, who earlier called on Congress president Sonia Gandhi to invite her for Friday’s swearing-in, said the prime minister will visit the state later.

“I invited the prime minister. He has a lot of programmes and will not be able to come. He assured all assistance,” she told reporters.

According to Trinamool leaders, Banerjee will resign as railway minister a day before taking oath as chief Minister.

After her meeting with the prime minister, Banerjee indicated that the railways portfolio will remain with the Trinamool Congress.

“The prime minister is a good man. No problem,” she said.

However, she denied that she had asked for more ministerial berths for her party.

“No, I didn’t do it,” she said. The Trinamool Congress has 19 MPs and is the largest coalition partner in the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA).

The Trinamool leader said after her meeting with Sonia Gandhi that her party wanted to keep the railways portfolio to carry on with the projects started in the ministry.

She said the Congress “will definitely” be part of her ministry.

Asked if Minister of State for Shipping Mukul Roy will replace her as railway minister, Banerjee did not give a direct answer.

“The prime minister will decide who will be the next railway minister, but we TMC want it to be with us… but it is the prime minister’s choice,” she said.

The Trinamool-Congress alliance crushed the Left Front in West Bengal, bagging 184 and 42 seats respective in the 294-member assembly.

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