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Mamata berth pangs

Calcutta, Sept. 10: Mamata Banerjee hopes to meet Atal Bihari Vajpayee to discuss which portfolio could be allotted to her before the Prime Minister flies to the US on September 16.

The Trinamul Congress chairperson was expected to leave for Delhi tomorrow but may put off her departure due to organisational work here.

Mamata would not be drawn on which ministry she is eyeing. “I have nothing to say on this. It is for the Prime Minister to take a decision on the issue,” she said this afternoon.

Sources said the Trinamul chief is under pressure from party leaders in the state to resolve the issue before Vajpayee flies out of the country.

Party functionaries said the CPM has launched a campaign in mouthpiece Ganashakti, ridiculing Mamata’s lack of portfolio. Ganashakti today carried an editorial criticising her decision not to accept the coal ministry. It questioned her “honesty and courage to challenge the Centre’s anti-people steps like the closure of public sector units and the split in Eastern Railway”. The CPM organ also hinted that the Trinamul leader’s re-induction as a minister without portfolio showed she no longer mattered in the National Democratic Alliance.

Local BJP leaders are not happy either, for they feel that if Mamata has do without a portfolio for long it could affect relations between the two parties.

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