10 Mar : Serving an ultimatum, Trinamool Congress has asked the Congress to convey within "a day or two" its decision on seat-sharing in WBengal for the Lok Sabha elections or else it was ready to go alone.
"The seat-sharing deal of 28 seats to be contested by the Trinamool Congress and 14 by the Congress was clinched on March one at a meeting in which WBPCC president Pranab Mukherjee and AICC in-charge of the state, K Keshava Rao were present," party chief Mamata Banerjee told reporters at Kolkata on Tuesday.
"We have been waiting for ten days and we cannot wait forever. There is a limit. If Congress is sincerely interested in alliance to defeat the CPI(M), they must inform us within a day or two."
Maintaining that her party was for the alliance in the interest of the people, she said, "We are ready for any situation. If there is an alliance it is well, otherwise we will fight on our own. We have some Left friends. We will not agree to let CPI(M) have the free run of West Bengal anymore."
The Trinamool leader said she did not want a situation which would benefit the CPI-M.
During the meeting on 11th March, Banerjee said Congress leaders had sought 48 hours time saying that as an all India party they needed to discuss it with the party high command.
At the meeting, Mukherjee had asked her to give five seats to Congress in South Bengal and nine in North Bengal, the TC supremo said the Congress was given seats like Bankura, Arambagh, Jhargram, Bolpur, Purulia, Burdwan-Durgapur.
"These are all winnable seats. Had we contested these seats, we would have done well, but in the interest of the alliance, we left the seats for Congress," she said.
She also said that in the 2004 Lok Sabha poll, when the performance of Trinamool, then an NDA ally, was its worst, Congress had won six seats and came second in two.
The party had finished third in three seats, while in 31 seats its candidates lost their deposits.
The TC chief claimed that the party had a good presence in seats like Jhargram, Arambagh and Bankura which were given to Congress.
Apparently referring to the Congress’ contention that that the party was given reserved seats, she retorted that her party was also contesting a number of such seats.
She said that in the interest of the alliance her party had refrained from replying to the accusations made by certain Congress leaders.
Banerjee alleged that a section of the media was lobbying for the Congress so that Trinamool Congress parted with more ‘good seats’.
"Media business is one thing and politics is another. It would be wrong to mix the two as some are doing. I will expose it at the appropriate time," she said and wondered whether it was an attempt to sabotage the Trinamool Congress "with slow poison."
Time running out for seat-sharing with TC: Cong
The Congress has said "time is running out" for finalizing seat-sharing with Trinamool Congress for coming Lok Sabha polls in West Bengal and talks are on between the two parties for reviewing some of the seats.
"Talks are on for review of some of the seats", said senior Congress leader incharge of West Bengal K Keshava Rao adding "I hope it will be done soo as time is running out".
The state’s ruling Left Front has already announced its candidates on all 42 Lok Sabha seats.
"Hopefully she (TC chief Mamata Banerjee) will understand that it is her responsibility as well as my responsibility that our and her workers both are satisfied and happy", Rao said in New Delhi on Tuesday.
State Congress leaders have expressed unhappiness over some of the seats offered by TC saying these are "difficult to win" because of being in CPI(M) strongholds in south Bengal.
Describing Banerjee as part of "our family", he said she had left Congress not due to any "idelogical reason" but over differences in approach.
Replying to another query, Rao said if the alliance with TC fails to materialise then Congress will decide about the future course of action.
"I hope the situation will not come to that", he added.
Suggesting the need for accomodation in tie-ups, he said "alliance is friendship and in friendship there are no differences. It is not only walking together rather walking hand in hand."To a question whether Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Banerjee will campaign jointly at some places, Rao said "it will happen when the alliance is there."
He claimed Congress-Trinamool Congress alliance will be a "nightmare" for Left.
He said even CPI-M veteran Jyoti Basu had said CPI-M would have a tough time if there is a Congress-TC alliance in place.He denied suggestions that Congress was desperate for an alliance in view of the problems over seat-sharing with Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh.
"We are certainly not desperate."
Banerjee had said on Monday that she was still awaiting a formal communication from Congress on seat-sharing.
It has been more than a week since Banerjee spoke to External Affairs Minister and PCC chief Pranab Mukherjee and Rao to announce that the two parties were together in taking on the Left Front in the coming poll.