Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday described as “unfortunate” the break-up of the Congress-Trinamool Congress alliance for the upcoming elections to 81 civic bodies in West Bengal and said he accepted full responsibility for his party's stand during the impasse over seat-sharing.
Mr. Mukherjee, who is president of the West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee, said that if needed, post-poll discussions could be held and indicated that the development should not adversely impact the prospects of a future alliance.
The Trinamool Congress was a “respected partner” in the government at the Centre, and he would not like to blame anyone for the collapse of the alliance. “I was involved in the discussions only at the preliminary stage….But, whatever decisions taken by the local leadership of the Congress are my responsibility,” he said.
Downplaying the rift between the two parties, Mr. Mukherjee said: “Civic elections are very different from Lok Sabha elections or Assembly elections: Lok Sabha elections and Assembly elections are fought on the issue of governance — how the country or the State is run.”
“That the alliance did not work out is unfortunate, but given the nature and context of the municipal elections, this is not unusual,” he said.
Mr. Mukherjee said the Congress's agenda was to dislodge the Left front from power since the Left parties withdrew support to the UPA government “without any reason” in 2008.
Without spelling out the reason for the split even after two weeks, the Trinamool Congress also highlighted the need for targeting the Left Front for what it called its failure to deliver the goods.
During the day, Mr. Mukherjee launched the Congress campaign. There was commotion at a conference of party workers at Panihati in North 24 Parganas district after a scuffle among party supporters.