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Left attends, Pranab pleased

Jan. 22: Pranab Mukherjee today expressed happiness at Congress and CPM supporters together attending a Siliguri event, held to inaugurate a trade route to Bangladesh.

“It is nice to see that people have come here for the sake of the state’s development, keeping aside their political and ideological differences,” the Union finance minister said after inaugurating the trade route.

His comments are being seen as a veiled dig at the Trinamul Congress, which has been boycotting all CPM programmes in the recent past. Mamata Banerjee has ignored repeated requests by CPM leaders such as Gautam Deb to come to the talks table to help end the political violence in the state.

State urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya and Bangladesh agriculture minister Matia Chowdhury attended the programme in Fulbari, 15km from Siliguri town. Scores of CPM and Congress supporters carried their party flags to the event.

“This is a good sign and would definitely pave the way for the state’s development,” Mukherjee told the gathering.

Bhattacharya echoed the finance minister. “We can see the flags of both parties here. It is good that people are joining hands for development irrespective of their political differences,” he said.

Trinamul leaders in Calcutta said it was the party’s avowed stand not to share the stage with the CPM.

“We did attend a meeting in 2008 with the chief minister to try and break the Singur deadlock. But we stopped sharing the same stage with the CPM after the party refused to accept our demand of returning 400 of the 1,000 acres acquired for the Nano project to the unwilling farmers,” said Trinamul state president Subrata Bakshi.

“We will not speak to a party that perpetrates violence,” he added.

Later today, Mukherjee addressed a rally in Siliguri town where he tore into the Left for joining the rest of the Opposition in stalling the winter session of Parliament over the demand for a joint parliamentary committee on the spectrum controversy.

“The CPM runs the government in three states and yet they created the impasse in Parliament. If they have faith in parliamentary democracy, they should not resort to such acts. If they don’t, they better join the Maoists,” he said.

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