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BJP reveals Mamata call

- Unfortunate, says minority leader

Nov. 18: Chief minister Mamata Banerjee has “approached Sushma Swaraj” to seek support for a no-confidence motion against the UPA, BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi said today.

“Ms Mamata Banerjee has approached the leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj,” Joshi said in Calcutta, replying to a question whether the BJP would extend support to the Trinamul-sponsored motion in the Lok Sabha this week. Joshi said the Trinamul chief had phoned Sushma yesterday.

The disclosure by Joshi —on record, Trinamul neither confirmed nor denied the claim — takes a notch forward Mamata’s appeal to “all parties” yesterday to support the no-trust motion that will require the endorsement of at least 50 Lok Sabha MPs. Trinamul has 19 MPs.

BJP sources in Delhi said Sushma was at Bal Thackeray’s funeral today and the proposal would have to be discussed by the NDA, whose parliamentary party is scheduled to meet on Tuesday, two days before the winter session begins on November 22.

Although Sushma is learnt not to have committed support to Mamata, the sources said the BJP would not be averse to backing such an initiative as it could help revive lines of communication with Trinamul.

The BJP itself is not keen on immediate elections but the general perception in Delhi is that the government would cobble together enough numbers in the face of a no-trust vote, unlike in the case of an FDI motion.

“Trinamul with only 19 MPs does not have the numbers to table a no-confidence motion. If the Trinamul leadership decides to go ahead, they should be prepared for whatever the consequences may be,” Joshi said.

However, by making the contact with Sushma public, Joshi appears to have put Mamata under some pressure. At least one minority community leader — some others had yesterday said they would watch how far Mamata would go to reach out to the BJP — sounded more categorical today.

Asked for a reaction to the latest developments, Noor-ur-Rahman Barkati, the Tipu Sultan mosque Shahi Imam who has always expressed unequivocal support for Mamata, told The Telegraph: “It is unfortunate.”

Barkati said it would be “unbearable for the community if Mamata Banerjee knocks on the BJP’s door”.

“Our position on the BJP and other communal forces is very clear. The Congress has become anti-people and Mamata Banerjee is doing the right thing by fighting its anti-people policies. But we expect that she would do this with the help of secular forces. The BJP and the RSS are completely unacceptable to us,” Barkati added.

Asked if Mamata had phoned Sushma seeking support, Trinamul state president Subrata Bakshi said: “You people kept silent when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh invited Sushma Swaraj to dinner but are making a hue and cry over Mamata’s approach to BJP.”

Mamata today received support from a leader of the CPI, which has four MPs. CPI MP Gurudas Dasgupta pledged to vote against the UPA government if Mamata succeeded in gathering 50 MPs. “We will not do anything to protect the government. We will vote against it,” he said.

But CPM MP Basudeb Acharya said: “We are opposed to tabling a no-trust motion at this juncture. We have asked for voting on FDI in retail.”

A section of CPM leaders saw a reason behind Dasgupta’s comments. “Gurudas might find it difficult to sail through from the Ghatal seat (West Midnapore) in the next polls and this may be a reason for his gesture to Mamata,” said a CPM state committee member.