| talking trade' Atal Bihari Vajpayee with Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee at the Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry programme on Wednesday. Picture by Kishor Roy Chowdhury
Calcutta, July 16: A one-to-one meeting between Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Mamata Banerjee at Raj Bhavan this afternoon brightened the prospects of her reinduction to the Union cabinet.
At the Prime Minister’s request, the Trinamul Congress chief called off her party’s boycott of the Assembly.
Sources said Vajpayee urged Mamata to return to his ministry. “Forget what happened in the past and come to Delhi at the earliest,” Vajpayee is believed to have told Mamata. The Trinamul leader iterated her “loyalty” to the Prime Minister but said she had been hurt by attempts to “break my party”. There was, however, no discussion on the former railway minister’s possible portfolio at the 10-minute meeting.
Though in a more round about way, Mamata’s return to the Cabinet also came up later, when a 38-member Trinamul delegation led by the party chief met Vajpayee.
When the Prime Minister urged the leaders to intensify their agitation against the CPM-led government, Sadhan Pande, a legislator and member of the party’s working committee, requested him to help Trinamul put up an effective fight against the Marxists by “making our leader more powerful”. The Prime Minister, sources said, smiled in answer.
Vajpayee’s assurance to go into the party’s allegations regarding “the CPM’s terror in Bengal” led to the end of the Assembly imbroglio.
Mamata later told newsmen that a formal decision to revoke the boycott would be taken at tomorrow’s working committee meeting. “We have decided to withdraw the Assembly boycott as the request has come from no less a person than the country’s Prime Minister. We have explained to him the factors and circumstances that prompted us to keep away from the budget session of the Assembly since June 26. Vajpayeeji gave us a patient hearing and promised to look into the matter,” she said.
Apart from the Trinamul delegation, the Prime Minister received several deputations from the state BJP, the Shyamaprasad Mookherji Birth Centenary Memorial Committee, Federation of Small and Medium Industries, Merchants’ Chamber of Commerce and representatives of different religious groups.
Vajpayee, Trinamul leaders said, appreciated the party’s decision to register a strong protest against “the CPM’s terror tactics”.
“I appreciate your stand. But you must keep in mind that the Assembly, too, is a forum in the democratic set-up where you can raise your demands. Besides, you should not forget that people have elected you to voice their grievances in the legislature. You have already registered your protest against the CPM’s terror by boycotting the House for a few days. Now it is time for you to withdraw the boycott and take part in the Assembly proceedings,” Vajpayee reportedly said.
“We have narrated to the Prime Minister how the Marxists are exercising total political control on police and administration and have reduced the elections to a farce. The state government has denied the Opposition parties their rights and privileges. We have told Vajpayeeji the ruling party is bent on destroying the democratic system in Bengal and sought his intervention to ensure free and fair polls in future,” Mamata said.
The BJP delegation led by state party chief Tathagata Roy spoke on the dangers arising out of infiltration from Bangladesh.