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Cong to discuss Mamata pact
- Pranab calls state duo

Calcutta, Oct. 19: Pranab Mukherjee has called two state Congress leaders to Delhi to discuss the selection of candidates for a string of elections and a possible pact with Mamata Banerjee.

“Pranabda has called us to discuss the selection of nominees for the elections we are facing in the next few months. A Congress-Trinamul tie-up for the polls is also on the cards,” state Congress working president Subrata Mukherjee said.

Pradip Bhattacharya, a former working president, will accompany him during the two-day trip to the capital from Wednesday.

Foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee told The Telegraph from Delhi: “We will have to prepare ourselves for a string of Assembly byelections and civic polls in Bengal.”

With state party president Priya Ranjan Das Munshi indisposed, Pranab, who had quit the post after the Assembly poll debacle in 2006, has been asked to oversee the organisation, AICC sources said.

Das Munshi, now in a Delhi hospital, was to discuss nominations for the November 30 elections to the Howrah Municipal Corporation and three municipalities — Behrampore, Krishnagar and Jhargram — with state Congress leaders last week.

Filing nominations will start on October 31 and continue till November 7.

Talks on the year-end byelections to the Sujapur (Malda), Nandigram (East Midnapore) and Para (Purulia) Assembly seats was also on Das Munshi’s agenda.

The Left controls the Howrah and Jhargram civic boards and the Congress holds Krishnagar and Behrampore.

Para and Nandigram are with the Left, while Sujapur is with the Congress.

Asked about a possible seat adjustment with Mamata’s Trinamul, Subrata said: “We are optimistic. Everything depends on Mamata.”

Bhattacharya said the prospects of a Congress-Trinamul tie-up had brightened after BJP leader Sushma Swaraj’s announcement that Mamata was no more with the NDA. “We are always keen to collaborate with Mamata to oust the CPM. Now we should seize the opportunity.”

Mamata today said she had discussed “nothing politics” with Pranab when she met him in Delhi on Friday night, but Trinamul and Congress circles said it was “very much on her agenda”.

“The two set the ball rolling for the coming together and things will materialise after Kali puja. More meetings are expected to cement the relationship,” a Trinamul MLA from south Calcutta said.

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