On a lightening visit to New Delhi on Monday, railways minister Mamata Banerjee initiated talks on the power-sharing arrangement between the Congress and the Trinamool Congress in West Bengal and at the centre at separate meetings with Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Gandhi is said to be agreeable to the idea of Congress participation in the Bengal government. Banerjee's proposal to get three cabinet berths for the Trinamool in the UPA government is also being discussed, sources said.
The Congress president has also agreed to be part of Banerjee's oath taking function in Kolkata — the date of which has now been re-scheduled to May 20 to accommodate Gandhi's schedule.
After her meeting with the Congress president, Banerjee told journalists, "I have invited Soniaji for the oath ceremony. She will let me know."
To a question on whether Congress will be part of her ministry, she said, "Congress will be part of the government. I have invited them and they will let me know."
Asked about her replacement in the Union Cabinet, she said it was for the Prime Minister to take a call on the issue.
With Minister of State (Shipping) Mukul Roy accompanying her, speculations were rife that Roy could succeed her as the railways minister.
Quizzed in the matter, Banerjee said, "He did not attend my meeting with Sonia Gandhi. He was outside. He is here because we will have to give details of election expenditure to the Election Commission.”
Earlier, Gandhi discussed the party's participation in the Bengal government with her political secretary Ahmed Patel and senior leader Shakeel Ahmed. The meeting came a day after Ahmed and Pranab Mukherjee ascertained the views of newly-elected Congress MLAs in the state.