The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mamata ultimatum to Cong

Calcutta, March 16: Mamata Banerjee today warned that she would put up candidates for 93 seats if the Congress 'is not serious about fighting the CPM' by joining an anti-Left platform in the Assembly elections.

Mamata had announced on Tuesday the names of her party's 201 candidates out of 294, leaving room for an electoral understanding with the Congress. But state Congress president Pranab Mukherjee reasserted yesterday that there would be no electoral alliance with the Trinamul Congress until it severs ties with the BJP.

'Why is the Congress talking about the NDA now' Mamata asked. 'We are not objecting to the Congress taking the CPM's support to run its UPA government at the Centre. So, they should not ask us to snap ties with the BJP. Let us forget about national politics and bring together all anti-Left forces to oust the communists from Bengal.'

The Trinamul chief made it clear that she would put up candidates for all the remaining seats within the next two days if the Congress refused to 'toe the anti-CPM line'.

'I will wait for one or two days and then announce our candidates for the remaining seats. The Congress should realise that I am not going around with a begging bowl. Our compulsion is to fight against the CPM, while Congress's is to run the UPA government with CPM's support. Let the people decide which is the real anti-CPM force in Bengal,' Mamata said.

Mukherjee has warned party activists against any deal with Trinamul at the grassroots. 'There cannot be any tacit or secret tie-up. I wanted an alliance with Trinamul but it refused to snap ties with the BJP. We cannot deviate from the AICC stand.'

State CPM secretary Anil Biswas said: 'When Pranab babu says that there will be no tacit understanding, there remains the possibility of such a deal. But we are not bothered about any secret tie-ups.'

Mamata today named Trinamul general secretary Mukul Roy as the party's nominee for the Rajya Sabha elections slated for March 28. In another development, Trinamul MLA from Bowbazar Nayana Bandopadhyay, councillor Mala Roy and former councillor Dibyendu Biswas joined the Congress. Nayana said she would not contest the Assembly polls from Bowbazar.

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