The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mamata pins hope on Ghani
- Pact talks in Malda today

Raiganj, Jan. 15: Riding the crest of what she thought was a wave in her favour in 2001, Mamata Banerjee fought with Ghani Khan Chowdhury over the number of seats Trinamul Congress would contest in Malda. Five years hence, the Malda veteran is Mamata's last hope in stitching together an alliance against the Left Front.

The Trinamul chief today urged Congress leaders to follow the example set by Barkatda, as Ghani Khan is known, and join hands with her party to oust the Left from power. 'He has understood the reality and called for the alliance. We have to work together to take on the Left singly and not divide the vote,' said Mamata.

Ghani Khan, who is in Calcutta, will hold talks with Mamata at his Kotwali residence in Malda tomorrow. Sources close to the Congress leader said Ghani Khan could offer the Englishbazar seat to Mamata if she wished to contest the Assembly elections.

Trinamul leaders in Malda said the Englishbazar seat would be 'the best for her'. Told about the suggestion, Mamata is said to have told her supporters in Malda that she was getting requests from every corner of the state. 'People in all 294 constituencies want me to contest the elections,' a party worker quoted Mamata as saying.

Mamata will stay overnight at Gour Bhavan in Malda and is understood to have spoken to Ghani Khan over phone. The call for the anti-Left alliance with the Congress and BJP as partners was made by Mamata at a public meeting this afternoon at Kaliaganj Stadium in North Dinajpur. 'We are the principal opposition party in the Assembly. In order to topple the corrupt Left Front government, we have given the call for a grand alliance,' she said.

Mamata, however, said she would not wait indefinitely for the Congress to respond. 'I fail to understand why the Congress is not taking a decision as yet. They are asking us to leave the BJP. My reply is if we are with the BJP and the NDA, the Congress too is with the CPM in the UPA,' she said.

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