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Updated: March 28, 2011 03:55 IST

Agreement with Trinamool elusive as West Bengal Congress insists on 70 seats

Raktima Bose
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Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee walks to her office from her residence at Kalighat in Kolkata on Wednesday. Photo: Arunangsu Roy Chowdhury
The Hindu Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee walks to her office from her residence at Kalighat in Kolkata on Wednesday. Photo: Arunangsu Roy Chowdhury

‘Strong possibility' of Mamata releasing Trinamool candidate list on Friday

The issue of arriving at an agreeable seat-sharing arrangement seems to have set off a “war of nerves” between the Congress and the Trinamool Congress. While the Congress leadership has been trying to buy time to decide whether or not to accede to the Trinamool's offer, Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee has set a deadline till Thursday night, failing which there is the likelihood of her releasing the party's candidate list on Friday.

According to sources in the Trinamool, there is a ‘strong possibility” of Ms. Banerjee releasing the list on Friday, though it is still unclear whether she will announce the names of the candidates for all 294 seats or leave out 60-62 seats for the Congress at least for now.

Ms. Banerjee has already finalised two candidate lists based on the situation, the sources added.

Meanwhile, the West Bengal Pradesh Congress leadership continued to be firm on its demand for at least 70 Assembly segments, and a meeting of senior leaders was held here on Thursday to discuss the candidature of the Congress nominees.

Though senior leaders in both camps were still hopeful of forging an alliance, it remains to be seen who first gives in to the demands of the other camp.

While there was a strong buzz in the Trinamool and media circles that Ms. Banerjee wanted to release the list on Thursday itself, she reportedly agreed to hold it for another day after receiving a call from Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee early on Thursday.

Request turned down

Senior Trinamool leader Mukul Roy said that Ms. Banerjee had late on Wednesday turned down a request from Ahmed Patel, Congress president Sonia Gandhi's political adviser, to defer finalisation of seat-sharing till Ms. Gandhi's return from abroad on March 21.

Ms. Banerjee reportedly told Mr. Patel that she could wait only till Thursday evening and announce the list of Trinamool candidates if the Congress high-command failed to resolve the deadlock on seat-sharing by that time.

Campaign delayed

Trinamool sources said that Ms. Banerjee is anxious to release the list immediately as the dilly-dallying is not only delaying the campaign process but is sending out a wrong signal to party supporters, who are confused about the future of the alliance. Hoping that the list would be released, several local-level Trinamool leaders and supporters assembled before Ms. Banerjee's residence and were disappointed when told that it had been deferred.

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