Making it clear that the Trinamool Congress would remain a “trusted” ally of UPA government for its full tenure, party chief Mamata Banerjee has kept her cards close to her chest on an alliance with the Congress for the West Bengal Assembly polls, saying that “nothing is closed”.
“I will speak on what is happening today. I will not speak about the future. We have gone to the people when all others had left us and they (people) have supported us. When opportunity comes in the future, we will speak. Nothing is closed,” Ms. Banerjee told PTI in an interview after her party’s triumph in civic polls which it fought without a tie-up with the Congress.
“When the UPA-II government was formed, (our party) as an ally made a commitment to remain in it for five years. We will stay unless we are pushed out,” Mr. Banerjee said.
Ms. Banerjee, however, said, “those who are saying that we are not to be trusted, should understand that we are more trusted then anybody else. There cannot be comparison between our commitment and those of others. We only want love and respect.”
Stating that the Left parties were the main allies of the UPA-I before they quit on the nuclear deal issue, she said her party will remain in UPA-II “as long as the CPI(M) is not there.
“If there are relations with the CPI(M) we cannot stay. We cannot co-exist with the CPI(M) just as and the DMK and the AIADMK cannot coexist,” the Trinamool leader, whose party is the second largest ally in the UPA with 19 MPs, said.
On her ties with the UPA, the Railway Minister said that there should be reciprocity “in the way we love and respect them. We also want a reciprocal gesture. We don’t want anything more than that.”
Describing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as “a good man and a gentleman”, she said, “We have got all his blessings and support. He is a good administrator. He has information about who is doing what.”
Asked about a senior Congress leader saying in the acrimonious run-up to the civic polls that alliance could not be made at the cost of the party, she said, “I respect senior leaders of the Congress.
“I have no comment. Anybody can make some comment. It is their prerogative and their choice.”
On suggestions by a section of the WBCC leaders that the party could not be written off because of the civic poll outcome and was in a position for seat-sharing on honourable terms with the Trinamool for the 2011 Assembly polls, she said, “They got the verdict of the people. The verdict itself speaks about performance.”
To a question on CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Biman Bose’s statement that Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee would not step down and there was no question of advancing the assembly elections, she reiterated, “We are in favour of early elections.”