Just when signs of a thaw had started appearing in Congress-Trinamool ties, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday took a confrontationist stand by declining UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi’s invitation for dinner on July 18.
Her refusal came a day after she had agreed to send railway minister Mukul Roy to Saturday’s crucial UPA meeting on vice-presidential election.
Trinamool sources said Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel had called up Banerjee to invite her to the farewell dinner for Pranab Mukherjee, whose candidature for president’s post she had vehemently opposed.
Banerjee turned down the invitation, saying she would be unable to attend in view of the preparations for the “martyr's day” rally in Kolkata on July 21.
The Trinamool leader had also skipped the UPA’s third anniversary dinner on May 22. However, it was not yet clear whether she will send a party representative for the dinner.
The stand of the Trinamool Congress on the presidential election is not yet known as Banerjee had earlier stated that she would announce her decision three days before the poll.
She is also opposed to giving another term to incumbent Hamid Ansari as his candidature was endorsed by the Left five years ago.
At Saturday’s meeting, the railway minister is expected to suggest the names of Mahatma Gandhi's kin Gopal Krishna Gandhi and Subhash Chandra Bose’s relative Krishna Bose for the vice-president’s post.
But a second term for Ansari appears certain with majority of UPA constituents and supporting parties backing him. The UPA is comfortably placed in the electoral college for the vice-president with the backing of nearly 500 of the 790 MPs.