The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mamata spares Subrata stick
Subrata, Mamta: Sour Taste

Calcutta, April 27: As Subrata Mukherjee, who broke away from the Trinamul Congress to float a forum last night, headed to Delhi today, Mamata Banerjee decided to 'ignore the deserters'.

'We shall not make those who have backstabbed us martyrs by initiating disciplinary action against them. Instead, we will urge the people to reject them in the coming polls,' Mamata told her key associates.

Trinamul spokesperson Pankaj Banerjee said 'the question of disciplinary action does not arise since we consider Subrata and his loyalists outsiders'.

Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay, the party's chief whip in the Assembly, said Mukherjee should quit as mayor. 'Subrata was elected mayor from Trinamul and he should now resign as he is no more with us.'

Mukherjee launched the Paschimbanga Unnayan Congress Mancha last night after he failed to convince the Trinamul leadership of the need to join hands with the Congress to beat the CPM.

Over 20 Trinamul leaders, including eight MLAs and 11 councillors, had turned up at a dinner hosted by the mayor to discuss the formation of 'a grand alliance of non-Left secular parties'.

Although chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee refused to comment, saying he was not interested in the internal matters of other parties, state CPM secretary Anil Biswas sneered that no alliance could take shape over dinner. 'Bhoj hajam holei jot hajam hoye jaye (When the food is digested, so will the alliance),' he said.

Mukherjee ' upbeat after last night's 'impressive turnout' ' claimed to have roped in some more legislators and councillors today. 'I got calls from several party people who want to join the Mancha,' he said before leaving for the capital.

But the mayor's meal could not woo Trinamul MLA from Bhatpara Arjun Singh, who informed Mamata that he would stay with her.

During his one-day trip to Delhi, Mukherjee will call on Congress leaders Pranab Mukherjee and Priya Ranjan Das Munshi, Amar Singh of the Samajwadi Party and Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar.

'I want to discuss the modalities with leaders in Delhi on how to strengthen the forum with support from non-Left secular parties. The Mancha should emerge as a viable alternative to the ruling Left Front,' he said.

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