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2 phone calls buy Congress talk time

india Updated: Mar 17, 2011 23:53 IST
Ravik Bhattacharya
Ravik Bhattacharya
Hindustan Times
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Phone calls from Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and finance minister Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday appeared to calm Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee and has won the Congress some more time to finalise seat-sharing talks for the Bengal assembly elections.

Banerjee had threatened to unilaterally announce the list of Trinamool candidates on Thursday after talks broke down on Tuesday. But she withheld the move that may have spelled doom for the alliance, and seemed ready to meet Mukherjee on Friday.

“She (Banerjee) got a call from the Congress president. Pranabda also called and requested her to wait for another day. He said the problem with seat sharing will be solved,” a confidant of the Trinamool chief said.

On Wednesday, Banerjee had turned down Gandhi’s political adviser Ahmed Patel’s request to wait until March 21, when Gandhi would return from abroad, for the finalisation of seat sharing.

Though she remained inside her Kalighat residence throughout the day, her statement to party workers was indicative.

“Please go home. Do not hang out here. Whatever has to happen will happen after Holi (March 20),” Banerjee was heard saying to the crowd outside.

The Congress has been demanding to contest on 90 of the assembly’s 294 seats, while Banerjee has been willing to concede only 65. In addition, both partners covet seats such as Kolkata Port, Garden Reach-Metiabruz, Ranaghat and Kharagpur.

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