Nov. 19: The Trinamul Congress kept insisting through the day that there is nothing wrong in holding talks with the BJP but it would neither deny nor confirm categorically if Mamata Banerjee called Sushma Swaraj on the weekend.
The BJP also turned tongue-tied 24 hours after its veteran leader Murli Manohar Joshi said in Calcutta that Mamata had called the Lok Sabha Opposition leader.
In the process, both parties have ended up making a purported telephone conversation — a perfectly normal mode of communication among legitimate political parties in the free world — look not only exceptional but also something that is not discussed in polite company.
Officially, Trinamul fought shy of naming the BJP while speaking on the discussions underway. “Mamata is in touch with the leaders of all the mainline political parties requesting them to support the no-confidence motion,” Trinamul MP Sultan Ahmed said.
He said Trinamul was “confident” of securing the support of 50 MPs required to get the no-trust motion admitted.
Another Trinamul MP, who insisted on anonymity, said Mamata had already spoken to Sushma. “We don’t know what transpired between Mamatadi and Sushmaji. But she did ring her up and sought the BJP’s support for our no-confidence motion. This much we know,’’ the MP said.
Asked if there has been any headway after the talks with Sushma, the MP added: “Two of our senior MPs have been entrusted by Mamatadi to cordially talk to the BJP’s central leadership. The two MPs have been told by Mamatadi to get back to her on the BJP’s response.”
At least two Trinamul MPs said she had directed her parliamentary party not to speak on the talks. “Murli Manohar Joshi has spilled the beans by making it public that Mamata called up Sushma Swaraj. Mamata now doesn’t want her MPs to officially speak on this,’’ an MP said.
Asked about the reason, he said: “Mamata has conveyed to us that since BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi had spoken at a media briefing, we should steer clear of the subject to avoid a controversy.”
Trinamul MP Saugata Roy said in the afternoon he had been asked to “prepare a flawless draft for the no-confidence motion” to be tabled in the Lok Sabha on November 22.
The Bengal CPM sought to portray Trinamul as an unreliable ally.
Addressing reporters in Calcutta, Opposition leader Surjya Kanta Mishra said: “First, Trinamul doesn’t have the numbers to get its no-confidence motion against the UPA II government admitted. More important, who will trust our chief minister? No party would like to side with her because of her flip-flop and opportunistic politics.”
Mishra said his party was well aware of Mamata’s record. “She (Mamata) broke away from the Congress and tied up with the BJP in the late nineties. Then she deserted the BJP and joined hands with the Congress. After the 2001 Assembly polls, she severed ties with the Congress and courted the BJP. After the 2006 Assembly elections, she once again threw the BJP off her shoulder and later closed ranks with the Congress,’’ said Mishra.
“So, if the BJP supports her now, it will be at its own peril,’’ he added.
Mishra said the Trinamul government was creating “communal polarisation” in Bengal. On the one hand, it is attempting to appease a “particular minority community’’ and, on the other, appealing to the BJP for support to its no-trust motion, the CPM leader said. “This would help the BJP spread its roots in Bengal,” Mishra added.