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Mamata wants more at Centre

delhi Updated: May 16, 2011 01:05 IST
Srinand Jha
Srinand Jha
Hindustan Times
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Flush with a historic electoral win in West Bengal, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief Mamata Banerjee flew in New Delhi on Sunday night in a special flight with a forceful wishlist that includes demands for three cabinet berths for her party in the UPA government.

Besides the demand to retain the railways portfolio, the TMC chief is likely to pitch in with demands for at least two other cabinet berths for her party.

In her meetings with Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the TMC chief will indicate her preference for the coal, steel or industries portfolios, sources indicate.

In exchange, Banerjee is willing to accommodate about half a dozen Congress legislators in the West Bengal government.

Congress leaders being considered for cabinet berths in the West Bengal government includes the state Congress chief Manas Bhuiyan, besides finance minister Pranab Mukherjee's son and Nalhati MLA Abhijit Mukherjee.

Accompanying Mukherjee in his special aircraft on Sunday evening from Kolkata, Banerjee is understood to have broached the subject en-route with the senior Congress leader.

About the deal being proposed, Congress President Sonia Gandhi will take a final call.

On a day's tour of the Capital, Banerjee is also expected to submit her resignation as railways minister to the Prime Minister.

With the Prime Minister scheduled to be touring Africa for a week from May 21, it is rather likely that Banerjee will submit her resignation on Monday itself, TMC sources said.

It is being speculated that the next reshuffle of the union cabinet will take place within a few days of the Prime Minister's return from his Africa tour.

With a Lok Sabha strength of 18 and 9 members respectively, the DMK and NCP had managed to bargain for three and two cabinet berths respectively.

The TMC, with a strength of 20 Lok Sabha members, is the UPA government's biggest coalition partner - having just one cabinet berth.

Banerjee's demand for three cabinet berths for the TMC is most reasonable, a TMC leader said.