The Telegraph
Monday , August 6 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mamata go-ahead to MPs for Sonia lunch

Calcutta Aug. 5: Mamata Banerjee has given the green signal to her MPs to attend tomorrow’s UPA lunch hosted by chairperson Sonia Gandhi ahead of the Vice-President’s election.

Although Mamata is yet to announce her decision on supporting UPA nominee Hamid Ansari, the move to allow Trinamul MPs to join the luncheon is being perceived as a hint of the party chief’s support for a second term for Ansari. The Vice-President’s election is scheduled for August 7.

“There has been no word from the party chief yet. Trinamul Congress has stood by the Centre every time. The President’s election proved that. Despite the initial objection, Mamatadi rallied behind the UPA nominee,” a party MP said.

Mamata had objected when Ansari’s name was being considered for the President’s post. The day Ansari filed his nomination, he had called up Mamata at Writers’.

“She was very moved by this gesture,” a Trinamul leader said.

Sources said Union minister of state for health Sudip Bandyopadhyay has been specifically asked to be present.

“He has to attend the lunch. The rest of the Lok Sabha MPs who can attend will do so,” a Trinamul minister said.

According to the sources, invites for the lunch were sent individually to the MPs.

“It was left to the party chief to say whether we would attend or not. This time there is no bar on the number, so whoever is present in Delhi will attend,” the leader said.

Last month, Mamata had asked Trinamul’s Rajya Sabha MP K.D. Singh to attend the UPA lunch before the President’s election. Another Trinamul MP, Sukhendu Shekhar Roy, had drawn flak from the party chief for attending the event without her permission.

Trinamul’s chief whip in the Rajya Sabha Derek ’Brien said most of the Rajya Sabha MPs would attend.

Trinamul MPs from both Houses would meet tomorrow evening to decide the party strategy for the monsoon session.