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Silent sign from Mamata

Calcutta, March 26: Prospects of seat adjustments between the Congress and the Trinamul Congress for the civic polls appear to have brightened.

Mamata Banerjee, who had rejected the idea outright when Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee suggested in Delhi last month that she leave the NDA and put up a joint fight against the Left Front, today said: 'I have nothing to say on this now.'

At the state Congress headquarters, Mukherjee said: 'Talks are on at some levels to forge an electoral alliance with Trinamul Congress. Some Congressmen are keen to have an unofficial understanding with the party at the grassroots level for the ensuing polls. But officially, we cannot tie up with Mamata until she walks out of the NDA.'

Of late, Mamata has been under pressure from a section of her party as well as some senior Congress leaders to put up common Opposition nominees against Left Front candidates in the municipal polls.

Congress MP from Raigunge Priya Ranjan Das Munshi has urged workers from his party and the Trinamul to join hands and defeat the ruling CPM. He also suggested that Subrata Mukherjee be projected as both parties' candidate for mayor.

Former chief minister Siddhartha Shankar Ray, too, has asked the parties to put up a united fight.

State Congress sources admitted that pressure has been mounting on the leadership to forge an alliance with the Trinamul. 'We have been getting feelers from party functionaries in different districts'. As things stand, we can hardly prevent the emergence of such an alliance at the grassroots level,' a party functionary said.

Mamata is also facing criticism in her own party for still holding on to the BJP. Two mayor-in-council members of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation have even decided to opt out of the fray if Mamata continues ties with the NDA.

'The BJP has lost its relevance in Bengal. So Mamata must ensure that there is no division in the anti-CPM votes. Only this can help us retain the civic board in Calcutta and wrest a number of municipalities from the CPM,' said Sultan Ahmed, the Trinamul's general secretary.

Pranab Mukherjee will share a platform with the mayor and Trinamul MLA Paresh Pal at a public function in Kankurgachhi tomorrow.

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