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HindustanTimes Wed,17 Sep 2014

Ground being prepared by Congress to woo Mamata

Ravik Bhattacharya, Hindustan Times  Kolkata, November 01, 2013
First Published: 12:12 IST(1/11/2013) | Last Updated: 12:14 IST(1/11/2013)

Silently, the ground is being prepared for a possible closing of ranks between estranged for mer allies Trinamool Congress and Congress - a scenario Trinamool leaders are not ruling out after the polls.

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Bengal’s ruling party leaders told HT that if the Federal Front proposed by Mamata Banerjee fails to take off, Congress might turn out to be the second choice for them.

In any eventuality, Mamata wants a formation that will give Bengal its ‘rightful dues’, a euphemism for her financial demands from the Centre.

What has sent tongues wagging are tell tale signs that indicate the former allies are perhaps going soft on one another stepping back from the sabre-rattling that marked the approach of both a few months ago.

“No one can be an enemy permanently. Our move will depend on the situation, which emerges after the Lok Sabha polls. One must keep in mind that, for Mamata Banerjee, Bengal’s interests are prime. Debt restructuring or a moratorium on interests is our longstanding demand,” said a Rajya Sabha MP close to Mamata Banerjee.

Interestingly, both Congress and Trinamool had recently shown indications of getting soft on each other, though tacitly.

Congress is eager to get back Mamata on its side since the latter is expecting at least 34 seats in Bengal and other states. Mamata too has not ruled out any post-poll tie-up keeping in mind Bengal’s dues and other factors.

“We left the UPA for the common man. It is Bengal’s due and the reverting the some of the anti-people policies which we want from the Centre, be it Congress after the Lok Sabha polls,” said core committee leader of Trinamool.

Congress and Trinamool had once again initiated talks over Mamata’s longstanding debt relief package for Bengal.

Trinamool MPs and later Mukul Roy met Union finance minister P Chidambaram over the issue.

After Mamata wrote a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh protesting against the Raghuraj Committee report on August 5, the Prime Minister responded in two days.

On August 7 Manmohan Singh wrote to the Bengal chief minister assuring her that her concerns will be looked into and the recommendations of the committee will not be immediately implemented.

Trinamool sources claimed that it had refrained from placing candidates in the Assembly polls in five states in a bid to not disturb the Congress.

Political circles were also surprised that Trinamool refrained from a note of dissent on the joint parliamentary committee report on 2G scam though it protested against it.

Recently, Trinamool MP Sougata Roy wrote an article in party mouthpiece ‘Jago Bangla’ on Mamata’s federal front initiatives.

In the article he made it clear that the constituent regional parties would have no link with BJP. However, interestingly he was silent on Congress and regional parties, which are close to it.

Congress leaders in Delhi, on their part, have been silent on Saradha scam and its links with Trinamool leaders.

Interestingly, though Serious Fraud Investigation Office has been probing it along with Enforcement Directorate but apart from suspended MP Kunal Ghosh none of the big leaders have been questioned.

BJP too is trying to woo Mamata, with senior leaders including Narendra Modi praising her and withdrawing party candidate at the last moment in Howrah by polls.

Sources said that apart from federal front, Congress is likely to be Trinamool’s best option keeping in mind Muslim vote in the state.


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