The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Missing Mamata sets off buzz

New Delhi, Aug. 20: Trinamul Congress chief Mamata Banerjee’s decision to skip the NDA meeting today at L.K. Advani’s home has triggered speculation about her serious differences with the BJP on the question of opposition to the Indo-US nuclear deal.

Sources say the party has decided not to be seen opposing the deal along with the Left.

Although Mamata avoided the NDA meetings during the recent presidential election, too, taking an independent line in favour of A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, her continued absence has raised eyebrows in the BJP.

There were murmurs that she has decided to distance herself from the NDA and there was no meeting of minds, at least on the nuclear deal.

BJP leaders, however, sought to project it as a difference in strategic approach. They argued that Trinamul wanted a no-confidence motion, which the NDA was not in favour of.

Explaining the NDA’s caution, BJP general secretary Arun Jaitley said: “… When the enemy is committing suicide, don’t disturb him.”

The Opposition alliance’s meeting today also decided to press for a joint parliamentary committee and a debate in Parliament instead of indulging in any destabilising game.

Mamata told reporters in Delhi that the Left was being hypocritical and was driven by China’s concerns. She also hit out at the Left for playing havoc with the government’s stability.

Trinamul Rajya Sabha member Dinesh Trivedi, refused to answer why his party was not attending the NDA meeting. Instead, he chose to train his guns on the Left.

“It is not only about the Manmohan Singh government. It is about the country and the country’s prestige. Why did the Left not tell the Prime Minister that it will not accept the deal even if he delivered on his promises because of its anti-Americanism'

“What was the Left doing for these three years when the deal was being negotiated if imperialism was such a threat' Why did they not stop the PM before the deal was done' The Prime Minister has done the right thing by calling the Left’s bluff. After all, toppling the government is not child’s play,” he said.

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