BJP not for Mamata's re-entry into NDA?

NEW DELHI, JULY 6. The Bharatiya Janata Party does not seem to be too enthusiastic about the re-entry of the Trinamool Congress leader, Ms. Mamata Banerjee, into the National Democratic Alliance. It has adopted a wait-and-watch policy to see how the situation develops and is certainly not willing to indicate that she would be welcomed.

The BJP president, Mr. Jana Krishnamurthi, today said Ms. Banerjee had not contacted the party for a renewal of the BJP- Trinamool alliance. He was responding to a question related to reports that she might be preparing for a re-entry into the NDA, and naturally, the Union Cabinet.

``If at all, Ms. Banerjee may have talked to Mr. George Fernandes, NDA convener,'' Mr. Krishnamurthi said, making it clear that he was not aware of it. ``Let her first apply for re- admission into the NDA, then we will see,'' was his response.

It is no secret that the West Bengal unit of the BJP had a tough time with its one-time alliance partner, the Trinamool Congress. The former State unit chief, Mr. Tapan Sikdar, had openly acknowledged that he and Ms. Banerjee could not agree on any issue. In fact, it would be closer to the truth to say that the two were allergic to each other.

Earlier, on several occasions, Mr. Krishnamurthi had said that he did not fancy the BJP or the NDA being treated like a bus ``on which you can get on when you like and get off when it pleases you.'' It was also made clear that a green signal for the Trinamool's re-entry would have to come from the NDA (which meant the Prime Minister and Mr. Fernandes), not the BJP.

Recently there were reports suggesting that the Congress- Trinamool electoral alliance was like a bad marriage heading for a divorce. And rebels within the Trinamool, led by Mr. Ajit Panja, were waiting for the right numbers to split the party and join the NDA. Both Mr. Panja and Ms. Banerjee are expected to bargain hard for Cabinet berths. And the recent staunch support the NDA received for its stand on Tamil Nadu is seen as a precursor to the return of bonhomie between the one- time partners.