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Mamata: Take Left support, we walk out

Mamata: Take Left support, we walk out

Author: Ravik Bhattacharya
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: May 6, 2009
URL: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/mamata-rebuts-take-left-support-we-walk-out/455174/2

Just hours after AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi claimed he was confident the Left would support a Manmohan Singh government, his party's ally in West Bengal struck back criticising him for his remarks - and their timing.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee said: "Our position is clear. If the Congress joins hands with the CPM or the Left after the polls, we cannot continue to be with them (Congress). There is no question of co-existence for us and the CPM."

Slamming Rahul's timing as it comes before two crucial phases are left - in which the Trinamool is expected to make gains - TMC leader of the opposition in the Assembly Partho Chatterjee said: "Such comments are not responsible from such a leader. This will have a negative effect on the polls...It's strange that these comments come when polling in constituencies where Congress put up candidates is over."

"Be it support from inside or outside or anywhere - if Congress takes the CPM or Left's support in any form, we will not be able to stay with the Congress. CPM is our principal opponent in the state and for years we have fought against its atrocities in Bengal, how can we share the same platform in the Centre?" he said.

A pre-poll TMC-Congress alliance was done in Bengal on the basis of seat sharing, where Congress fielded candidates in 14 constituencies mostly in North Bengal, which went for the polls in the first phase. TMC fielded candidates in 28 constituencies, mostly in South Bengal. It is in South Bengal that the TMC is expected to wrest seats from the CPM.

The issue of a post-poll tie-up between the Left and the Congress has been brewing since Manmohan Singh's remarks that it was a "privilege" to work with the Left. Although CPM general secretary Prakash Karat has said that there was no question of supporting the Congress, his colleague Sitaram Yechury kept the window open saying any move would follow the results on May 16. Pranab Mukherjee, too, on numerous occasions has not ruled out seeking Left support. But Rahul's statement today is seen as more "definitive" and prompted TMC leaders - so far silent on the issue - to open up.

Several times, Mamata has said that the Congress-TMC alliance was on the condition that the former would not tie up with the Left in a post-poll situation, a claim that was rejected by Mukherjee recently.

TMC leaders are aware that their options are limited. "Even if the Left does poorly, it has about 40 seats to offer to the Congress and our best-case scenario is only half of that," said a senior TMC leader. "Let's see how Karat then deals with the Congress."

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