The impasse over seat-sharing between the Congress and the Trinamool Congress for the West Bengal Assembly elections continued on Wednesday, a day after a meeting between Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee on the issue turned out to be “inconclusive.”
The members of both the parties had pinned hopes of a positive outcome from the meeting.
Leaders in both the camps, including Mr. Mukherjee, however, asserted that negotiations would continue.
Before leaving for New Delhi early on Wednesday along with AICC leader-in-charge of West Bengal Shakeel Ahmed and senior Congress leader B. Janardhana Poojary, Mr. Mukherjee told reporters, “I have nothing more to add to what I had said last [Tuesday] night. Talks [with the Trinamool] are on. Talks are not yet over.”
Meanwhile, Ms. Banerjee, who declined to comment on the meeting, remained cooped up in her office for most part of Wednesday and refused to talk to the media.
Tension about the future of the alliance was, however, palpable among several party supporters and leaders, who usually hang around the office everyday.
With the Left Front, which had announced its list of candidates on Sunday, releasing its election manifesto on Wednesday, both the Trinamool and the Congress leaderships are understandably under pressure to announce their candidate lists soon.
According to informed sources, the Trinamool has upped its offer of 62 seats to 64 and the Congress has climbed down from its earlier demand of 98 seats to 70. But differences remain over whether or not the Trinamool will leave for the Congress two Assembly segments within the city area as is being sought by the latter.