Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo Mamata Banerjee has spurned Janata Dal (United) working president Sharad Yadav’s offer for a seat- sharing arrangement for the upcoming assembly polls in West Bengal. She, however, welcomes the idea of having leaders of that party — including Bihar CM Nitish Kumar — as her star campaigners.
“I told Sharadjee clearly that TMC had not asked for an arrangement in last year’s Bihar polls. By that logic, the JD(U) should not expect any concessions from our side. If he wants to come to Bengal to campaign for the TMC, he is welcome,” Banerjee said. Asked if the offer to campaign extended to the Bihar CM, Banerjee said: “It is fine with us”.
Pursuing the electoral arrangement plans with the Congress, Banerjee is scheduled to meet senior Congress leader and finance minister Pranab Mukherjee on Monday.
Asked if she would be discussing issues with Congress president Sonia Gandhi, she said: “I’ve met her and discussed all issues several times”.
While the TMC-Congress seat-sharing arrangement for West Bengal assembly is expected to be firmed up this week, Banerjee is looking at possibilities of building up a ‘grand alliance’ against the Left Front.
The TMC already has the Socialist Unity Centre of India-Communists (SUCI-C) as its electoral partner, while smaller parties have evinced interest in joining the bandwagon.
“I will meet Banerjee on March 20 to discuss possibilities of a poll arrangement”, said Salkhan Murmu of a little known Jharkhand Disom Party.
The TMC is on the verge of finalising its seat-sharing agreement with the Congress. The party is willing to concede 55-60 seats to the Congress, the state unit of which had earlier demanded 98 seats.
But the central leadership of the Congress did not give much weight to the demand, terming it “unrealistic”.