Calcutta, Jan. 25: The AICC may have shut its door on parties aligned with the BJP, but the Congress's Bengal unit has not given up on Mamata Banerjee yet.
Back from the AICC plenary at Hyderabad, several state Congress leaders today renewed their appeal to the Trinamul Congress chief to sever ties with the BJP-led NDA.
'We really expect something positive to emerge from her meeting with Pranab Mukherjee this Saturday,' former state Congress president Somen Mitra said this afternoon. 'We are still hopeful of working out an electoral understanding with her.'
Mamata, however, reiterated that she would not leave the NDA. 'I want to call on Pranabda to request him to make Congress a part of our current alliance (of nine parties),' she said.
Observers pointed to a number of factors that have compelled the state Congress to keep knocking on the Trinamul leader's door despite her firm stand. 'If the state Congress fails to tie up with Mamata, the party may have to experience poll reverses not only in the south Bengal districts which are Mamata's stronghold but in north Bengal as well,' an analyst said.
In the 2001 Assembly polls, when Mamata had forged an alliance with the Congress after snapping ties with the BJP, her party had got 60 legislators elected and the Congress only 30, including four Independents it had supported.
Of the 60 Trinamul legislators, the bulk won from Calcutta, Nadia, the two 24-Parganas and the two Midnapores. The Congress MLAs were elected from Malda, Murshidabad and North Dinajpur.
'We fear the Congress may fare badly even in its strongholds like Malda and Murshidabad because of a steady erosion in the minority vote bank. The CPM may make inroads into the minority pockets,' said a Congress MLA.