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Rahul to meet Bengal leaders

Calcutta, March 2: The Congress has called 13 leaders of the Bengal unit to an “emergency” meeting with Rahul Gandhi in Delhi tomorrow.

“We got a call from the AICC today asking us to be present at Rahulji’s emergency meeting at his Delhi residence at 3pm tomorrow,” Congress MP Pradip Bhattacharya said this evening.

Bhattacharya, who was replaced by Adhir Chowdhury as Bengal Congress president recently, said the state unit had not been informed of the meeting’s agenda. “However, it appears that finalisation of candidates for the Lok Sabha elections will be the main issue,” he said.

A section of state Congress leaders did not rule out the possibility of discussions on an alliance with Trinamul. “Although our state president had told Rahulji last week that Bengal Congress leaders and workers were against an alliance with Trinamul for the Lok Sabha polls, ours is a national party and the high command can once again discuss the issue with us,” a state Congress general secretary said.

“The high command’s decision is binding on us regardless of our reservations about a tie-up with Trinamul,” he said, adding that an election understanding was not “a closed chapter yet”.

Asked about the speculation on an alliance, a Trinamul general secretary close to Mamata Banerjee said “in politics, nothing is impossible”.

“We have said we are against any tie-up with the Congress. But in politics, nothing is impossible,” he said.

Besides Bhattacharya, state Congress chief Chowdhury, Somen Mitra, Manas Bhuniya and Mohammed Sohrab are part of the team that will meet Rahul.

An AICC leader said tonight from Delhi that Rahul, the party’s vice-president, was likely to “give his seal of approval” to the list of nominees the state leadership had submitted to Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

The leader parried the question whether the possibility of an alliance would be discussed at the meeting.

Rural switch

Six Independent members of a gram panchayat in South 24-Parganas today switched to Trinamul, a fortnight after they had joined the Congress. The Trinamul wrested control of the Daria panchayat on the back of today’s switchovers.