Mamata plays hard to get, sets Thursday deadline
The eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation between the Congress and Trinamool Congress continued throughout Wednesday.kolkata Updated: Mar 16, 2011 23:58 IST
The eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation between the Congress and Trinamool Congress continued throughout Wednesday.
A new twist was added in the evening when Congress president Sonia Gandhi's political adviser Ahmed Patel called up Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee, requesting her to desist from taking a unilateral decision till March 21 when Sonia is supposed to return from London.
Banerjee, however, reportedly told Patel that March 21 was far away and that they should come up with a decision by Thursday evening.
"Patel called Banerjee and requested her to wait till March 21. Congress leaders would sit with her over the seat-sharing," said a senior Trinamool leader.
Banerjee has her list of 294 candidates ready, her confidantes said. Though no direct reference to the list was made, the obvious conclusion was that the Trinamool chief would not wait beyond Thursday.
With both parties refusing to budge from their respective positions, senior leaders on both sides closely examined their Plan Bs. The Congress, too, is preparing its own list.
Leaders played coy when talking to media.
"I have nothing new to say," said finance minister Pranab Mukherjee before leaving for Delhi.
"We are trying," said Shakeel Ahmed, All India Congress Committee (AICC) in-charge of Bengal.
Sonia was also briefed about the development.
Congress leaders complained of Banerjee refusing to budge an inch on seats that are known to be Congress strongholds.
The Trinamool chief is, however, yet to relent on the 90-seat demand by the Congress. She is willing to concede only 65.
West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee president Manas Bhuinya has called a meeting of district presidents on Thursday to prepare a list of candidates.
They are supposed to finalise 294 candidates, especially for the 54 seats going to polls on April 18.
These seats are in Coochbehar, Jalpaiguri, Darjeeling, North Dinajpur, South Dinajpur and Malda, territories where the Congress is relatively strong.
EC: Remove Kolkata CP
The Election Commission has directed West Bengal to replace Kolkata police commissioner Gautam Mohan Chakraborty because his tenure has exceeded three years.
The body has sought a panel of three names from which the new police chief could be selected.