The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
Email This Page
Hands empty, but Mamata in no hurry

New Delhi, Sept. 9: Mamata Banerjee has to wait at least two more days for a cabinet berth.

The Trinamul Congress leader, who rejoined Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s council of ministers yesterday, left for Calcutta empty-handed after the BJP leadership could not decide on a suitable portfolio and the Prime Minister remained busy hosting his Israeli counterpart, Ariel Sharon.

Sources, however, said Vajpayee is likely to grant Mamata an audience on September 11, by when he expects to find a berth for her.

Today, NDA convener George Fernandes, who was the reason why Mamata had quit as railway minister more than two years ago, held a lunch meeting with the Bengal leader. The defence minister, whose resignation she had demanded in the wake of the Tehelka exposé, said “there was no problem” over Mamata not being given any portfolio after her re-induction.

Mamata, too, downplayed her position as minister without a ministry. “There is no reason to think so,” she said after being asked whether she was going back empty-handed. “There is no empty hand or full hand. People in Bengal know my work.”

Asked how long she would wait, Mamata said she was in no hurry for a portfolio. “There is no time frame. The Prime Minister will decide. I do not want to disturb the Prime Minister,” she added. Trinamul sources said Mamata is likely to return to the capital on Thursday, when the Prime Minister may be able to find a portfolio for her.

Mamata emphasised that she was rushing back to Calcutta in the wake of reports of a party worker’s murder by alleged CPM goons in Nadia. She said her first priority was to counter the Marxists, not a ministry. “How much more bloodshed (do) they want' He (the victim) was a good man,” she said, adding that she has informed the Prime Minister that she was leaving for Calcutta.

While a section of the BJP brass is not favourably inclined towards her, Mamata is banking on the goodwill of not only Vajpayee but also Fernandes, who, despite Sharon’s visit, found time to lunch with the Trinamul leader. But “no politics” was discussed, she said, adding that it was just a courtesy lunch.

Email This Page