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Mamata dares UPA to snap ties, Cong says TMC still an ally

Mamata Banarjee today said she would not attend the UPA meeting on the presidential poll tomorrow and dared the Congress to sever ties with her, if it so wanted. Congress said that Banerjee is still an ally.

delhi Updated: Jun 14, 2012 21:25 IST

A combative West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banarjee on Thursday said she would not attend the UPA meeting on the presidential poll Friday and dared the Congress to sever ties with her, if it so wanted.

"I have not left (the United Progressive Alliance), if they want me to leave then it is for the UPA to take a call. We don't want to topple the UPA government. The ball is in the Congress's court," she told media persons.

Making it clear that she was not attending the UPA meeting on Friday, Banerjee said that she was staying back only to meet Samajwadi party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav for holding some consultations.

"It is me and Mulayam Singh who had jointly announced the three names for the presidential candidate but Congress has rejected all the three."

Banerjee along with Mualayam Singh had suggested the name of former president APJ Abdul Kalam, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and former Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee as probable candidates to succeed President Pratibha Patil who demits office July 24.

Annoyed with the Congress over the rejection of three names, Banerjee said that if any threats were made to her, she would respond to them appropriately.

"I will face the situation when it comes," she said, adding "We don't give threats to any one nor do we take threats."

Banerjee described Kalam as "number one and the best candidate".

She stressed it "is not a local body or a gram Sabha or an MLA (legislator) or MP's election" but that of the president, who represents the country to the world.

Terming Kalam the best choice, Banerjee, however, sought to erase the impression that she was backing the choice of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance government of the then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

"Even before NDA had made Kalam their presidential nominee in 2002, it was me and Mulayam Singh Yadav who had proposed his name," she asserted.

The Trinamool supremo also rejected the suggestion if the political divide between the UPA meant that country was heading towards mid-term polls.

"This has nothing to do with mid-term elections."

"Who has asked for consensus," she burst out to queries on whether there were no chances of consensus on the presidential candidate.

Banerjee also declined to comment on Samajwadi Party leader Ramgopal Yadav's comment that his party was open to discussing other options.

The Congress Thursday said Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee was still an ally, hours after it snubbed the West Bengal chief minister for suggesting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's name for the Presidential polls.

"Mamata is still our ally," Congress leader Janardan Dwivedi told reporters in New Delhi.

The Congress had earlier rejected the names of three candidates suggested by the Trinamool and Samajwadi Party.

Banerjee said on Thursday she will not attend Friday's UPA meeting on deciding a presidential candidate.

"I am not here (tomorrow Friday) as I had said that I will wait for 26 hours and I am returning after meeting (Samajwadi Party chief)Mulayam Singh (Yadav)," she told reporters ahead of the meeting.

The United Progressive Alliance has called a meeting on Friday to decide on a Presidential candidate.


First Published: Jun 14, 2012 19:26 IST