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Mamata envoy to woo George

New Delhi, Nov. 8: Trinamul Congress chief Mamata Banerjee has deputed party general secretary Mukul Roy for talks with defence minister George Fernandes on an alliance for contesting the Assembly polls in Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.

The desire of the Trinamul to enter the fray in alliance with the Janata Dal (United) follows the rival CPM’s decision to contest three seats in Delhi, six in Chhattisgarh, nine in Madhya Pradesh and 18 in Rajasthan.

Some Trinamul leaders feel the party should field Congress leaders who have been denied tickets. Though Trinamul, which is still weighing the pros and cons of joining the proposed front led by Fernandes within the NDA, has no base in these states, such leaders who enjoy local Congress support can bring votes into its kitty.

The defence minister is expected back tonight from his tour of Central Asia. However, though he is not averse to including Trinamul in the coalition, food minister Sharad Yadav and railway minister Nitish Kumar might prove stumbling blocks.

Roy, who arrived here yesterday, said no decision has been taken whether or not to contest. He said he was holding “talks with party’s central committee members and a decision will be taken only after completing the talks”.

Yadav said in Delhi, the party would contest between 10 and 15 seats out of the total of 70. It would contest 20 seats, 10-15 out of ninety in Chhattisgarh, 30-40 out of 230 in Madhya Pradesh. Out of 40 seats in Mizoram, the JD(U) will contest 29, he said.

The union minister said the party will contest only limited seats as it did not want to waste its resources. He said the JD(U)’s expansion will not stop at the merger of the two organisations. But Verma declined to reveal the names of parties seeking merger with the JD(U).

However, sources said the Trinamul will not forgo its identity by merging into the JD(U), of which Mamata’s bete noire Nitish Kumar is a senior leader. The Trinamul can at best be part of the front led by Fernandes, which the NDA convenor is trying hard to launch before the Lok Sabha polls.

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