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WB polls: Mamata hints at dumping BJP for Cong

Releasing the list of party candidates, Banerjee said of the 193 seats the party's re-nominated sitting legislators would contest 59.

india Updated: Mar 21, 2006 15:24 IST

In a repeat of the 2001 scenario, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee on Monday hinted at dumping BJP again to ally with Congress for coming West Bengal assembly pollswhile announcing a list of candidates for 193 seats and not fielding nominees in seats contested by Congress the last time.

Trinamool Congress's action angered BJP which said such "unilateral" decision was not good for alliance politics.

Banerjee told a hurriedly called press conference that Congress contested 66 seats last time. "This time we are ready to give Congress more than 66 seats even."

Recalling her talks on alliance with Congress which wants her to severe ties with BJP, she said "I have already held talks with Congress leaders Pranab Mukherjee and Margaret Alva. I am still hopeful of seat-sharing with them.

"I have not fielded candidates in the 26 seats won by Congress and in the four seats won by Congress-backed independents and in several seats where Congress had contested in 2001." she said.

Releasing the list of party candidates following a meeting of her party and allies of the front led by her, Banerjee said of the 193 seats the party's re-nominated sitting legislators would contest 59.

Replying to questions, she said the party had talks on giving 23 seats to ally BJP.

Banerjee announced her party's smaller allies would contest in eight seats. While two seats were alloted each to JD(U), Jharkhand Party (Naren), one seat each was given to West Bengal Democratic Manch, CRLI, Samajwadi Janata party and a naxalite faction CRLI.

Banerjee said while she gave a call to all the anti-Left parties to form a grand alliance for defeating the Left Front the Congress has been insisting of not having any truck with ally BJP.

"I know the compulsions of the Congress. But at the same time my call was for a one-to-one contest to ensure that there was no split in anti-Left votes."

The Trinamool Congress leader said she would wait for the Congress response after showing generosity in seat-sharing with that party.

"I am still in NDA," she said when asked whether she was leaving NDA to ally with the Congress for the coming polls.

Banerjee announced that a retired IAS officer Dipak Ghosh who is a sitting TC legislator at Mahishadal has been shifted from the seat and would take on Chief Minister Budhadev Bhattacherjee at the Jadavpur constituency.

The Leader of the Opposition in the present West Bengal assembly Pankaj Banerjee has been renominated from Tollygunge constituency, she said, adding the list contained several new faces and 31 Muslim candidates including party minority cell chief Sultan Ahmed, who has been fielded from Bowbazar in the metropolis.

The Trinamool Congress had contested 228 seats in 2001 when the party allied with the Congress after Banerjee, the then Railway Minister had quit NDA.

First Published: Mar 13, 2006 21:34 IST