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Pranab warns flock on civic polls

Calcutta, March 1: Pranab Mukherjee reportedly told his party colleagues in Bengal today that he would personally intervene wherever seat-sharing problems with Trinamul Congress surfaced before elections to 82 civic bodies.

“The seat adjustment with Trinamul has to be clinched. Whenever problems crop up over the sharing of seats, I shall personally intervene to ensure that the alliance with Trinamul is adhered to,” Mukherjee was quoted as saying at a core committee meeting in his Dhakuria home that lasted for over an hour.

Last year, after the Siliguri civic polls, the Congress had taken the Left’s support to form the municipal board after Trinamul refused to give up its demand for the mayor’s post, dealing the most severe jolt yet to the Opposition alliance. During the tug-of-war between the allies, the Congress leadership had repeatedly said that district-level leaders would be allowed to handle the matter, not national leaders.

But what Mukherjee said today sent the opposite signal. At the meeting in Mukherjee’s house, state Congress working president Pradip Bhattacharya was present, but Subrata Mukherjee, another working president, was not.

Those present said Mukherjee directed all 15 district observers to update him by March 15. “I want comprehensive reports from our observers on the ground reality concerning the alliance, latest by March 15,” a party leader quoted Mukherjee as saying.

Mukherjee’s signal, some leaders said, was a warning to “recalcitrant” functionaries in Nadia and Murshidabad where the Congress seems unwilling to part with the requisite number of seats for Trinamul. “By emphasising that he would personally intervene to sort out disputes, if any, over seat adjustment, Pranabda virtually warned our recalcitrant leaders in Nadia and Murshidabad,” a leader said.

In Nadia, Shankar Singh, who wields clout over the organisation, has refused to give Trinamul the number of seats it has sought.

In Murshidabad, Congress MP Adhir Chowdhury has said he will not give a single seat to Trinamul as the party has no presence in the district.

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