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Congress, Trinamool reach accord for Bengal polls

Monday March 21, 2011 06:44:10 PM, IANS

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New Delhi/Kolkata: Ending weeks of suspense, the Congress and the Trinamool Congress Monday agreed on seat-sharing for the April-May West Bengal assembly polls. Under the deal, Trinamool will contest 227 seats while the Congress gets 65 constituencies.

Congress leader in charge of West Bengal Shakeel Ahmed told reporters in New Delhi: "Congress will contest 65 seats and the Trinamool Congress and junior partner Socialist Unity Centre of India (SUCI) 229 seats."

A similar statement was made by Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who returned from a week-long tour of Britain Sunday, played a key role in breaking the impasse, a party leader told IANS in New Delhi.

"There is no issue of a compromise. We are committed to honour the alliance and agreed formula," Ahmed said.

Congress sources said Gandhi was keen on the alliance to stay together and on the seat-sharing accord to be sealed at the earliest.

The first indication of the breakthrough came when Trinamool circles in Kolkata said that Banerjee would not be announcing any candidate for the 64 seats that she had originally kept for the Congress.

The Trinamool gesture came after Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, the main troubleshooter for the Congress, spoke to Banerjee in Kolkata over telephone, sources said.

Before that, Mukherjee met Gandhi to apprise her of the situation, they said.

An office-bearer of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) told IANS that Gandhi was "for the Congress-Trinamool alliance to stay together for the polls and after".

She did not "encourage the opinion of some state leaders to go alone (in the polls)", he added.

On Friday, Banerjee had unilaterally announced the list of Trinamoool candidates and left 64 seats for the Congress. She said her party would announce candidates for the 64 seats too if the Congress did not name its candidates by Monday.

Banerjee had complained that the Congress was "displaying undue delay in announcing the candidates".

"We have waited for 18 days, and there is no response from the Congress," she added.

Earlier Monday, in an apparent bargaining move, Ahmed said "the party was preparing three lists -- for 64 seats, 90 seats and all 294 seats".

However, he said the Congress wanted the alliance to stay.

"All Congressmen will abide by whatever decision the Congress high command decides," he added.

Voting for the 294 seats of the West Bengal assembly are to be held in six phases from April 18 to May 10. The results will be declared May 13.






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Picture of the Day

President of India Mrs. Pratibha Devisingh Patil addressing at the inauguration of the National Festival of Tribal Dances, ‘PRAKRITI’, in New Delhi on March 16, 2011. Union Minister for Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation and Culture, Kum. Selja, Union Minister for Tribal Affairs Kantilal Bhuria and Minister of State for Tribal Affairs Mahadev S. Khandela are also seen.

(Photo: Mukesh Kumar)



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