The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mamata rally: BJP out, Cong in

Calcutta, Oct. 17: The state Congress has scored a point by making Mamata Banerjee agree to keep the BJP out of tomorrow’s rally on Singur.

“The Congress will join the rally since the BJP is not there. I have authorised the state unit to join forces with Mamata to protect the cause of farmers at Singur. But the Congress will not be a party to any programme that has the BJP’s participation,” said Margaret Alva, the AICC general secretary in charge of Bengal.

Alva said over the phone from Delhi that she had spoken to Mamata yesterday to discuss Congress-Trinamul joint programmes to protest against the CPM’s move “to acquire agricultural land forcibly for industry”.

“It’s good that Mamata, too, phoned me. But I keep requesting her to come out of NDA and join forces with the Congress as our party has national compulsions. We cannot align with communal forces and I believe Mamata understands that,’’ Alva said.

After meeting defence minister Pranab Mukherjee in Delhi, PCC working president Pradip Bhattacharya has conveyed the Congress’s decision to the Trinamul leadership.

The Congress’s stand is that its leaders will participate in the demonstration here on the ground that the party agrees with the Trinamul Congress on Singur. “We decided that the Congress should support the issue. Our leaders would be present at tomorrow’s rally and will also address the gathering. That the BJP will stay away from the demonstration is also one of the reasons,’’ Bhattacharya said from Delhi.

With a view to ensure the Congress’s support, the Trinamul Congress chief did not send any invitation to the state BJP to join tomorrow’s demonstration. “Why should we go' We have not been intimated or requested by the Trinamul Congress,’’ state BJP general secretary Rahul Sinha said.

Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar, the chief of the Trinamul Congress’s women’s cell, has been asked by Mamata to organise tomorrow’s rally and has also been directed to ensure the participation of women from Singur in a big way.

“Several women from Singur have been affected because of the move to acquire farmland. They had earlier demonstrated there with sickles and broomsticks. Tomorrow, they will hit the city streets to send a message to Writers’,’’ Ghosh Dastidar said.

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