Cong’s Mamata dilemma remains

The appointment of Union minister Pranab Mukh-erjee in Dasmunsi’s place and the latter’s wife Deepa as spokes-person in West Bengal does not seem to auger well for an under-standing, reports Saroj Nagi.
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Updated on Feb 26, 2009 11:37 PM IST
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Hindustan Times | BySaroj Nagi, New Delhi

Come elections and talk of a possible Congress-Trinamool alliance gains ground. But will it materialize?

If you go by the past record, the result isn’t encouraging, barring 2001, when they came together for assembly elections and won 90 seats.

With the Cong-ress’s stakes high this time, it has been exploring chances of an understanding. When PR Das-munsi became Pradesh Cong-ress Committee chief in 2008, there was speculation of a tie-up. But his illness has slowed down the process and the two sides have, in fact, exchanged sharp words several times.

The appointment of Union minister Pranab Mukh-erjee in Dasmunsi’s place and the latter’s wife Deepa as spokes-person in West Bengal does not seem to auger well for an under-standing. Neither is known to be overzealous about it, though Mukherjee some time back met Trinamool leader Mamata Bannerjee in this regard.

There are two views in the Congress on a tie-up with Mamata’s party. Its advocates believe it would pose a threat to the Left and help the two parties increase their seat and vote shares. Those against say the Trinamool and not the Congress will gain from the weakening of the Left Front. “Depending on the result, the Trinamool may, after polls, opt for the BJP. The Left, on the other hand, may not help the Cong-ress but try to see the BJP doesn’t come to power,'” said a party leader who didn’t want to be named. Mamata’s unwillingness to openly snap ties with the BJP is being used as an argument.

At the heart of the matter is the belief that a Congress-Trinamool tie-up may at best fetch them a little over a dozen of the state’s 42 Lok Sabha seats. And the Left, even at its worst, may get 30-odd seats from strongholds in Bengal, Kerala and Tripura — which would prove critical in a fractured House. The key question this raises is whether the Left, after the fallout over the nuclear deal, would once again back the UPA.

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