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RENUKA RUSH TO OPEN MAMATA FLANK IN ANDHRA PRADESH 

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BY BARUN GHOSH   |   Calcutta   |   Published 11.04.99, 12:00 AM

Calcutta, April 11 :     Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu?s main detractor Renuka Chowdhury, a former Union health minister, has approached Trinamul Congress founder Mamata Banerjee for a Trinamul franchise in her home state. Chowdhury came to Calcutta from Hyderabad last month and discussed with Banerjee the possible formation of a Trinamul unit in Andhra Pradesh. Her visit was kept a secret by Trinamul circles. ?Mamata?s response to my proposal has been very positive, so I?ve got busy working out the modalities of launching the outfit in my state,? she told The Telegraph tonight from Hyderabad. Chowdhury said she would hold a second meeting on party formation with Banerjee after the present political turmoil in Delhi blew over. ?I will most probably visit Calcutta next month to brief Mamata about the progress of my work in Hyderabad,? she added. Chowdhury, who has fallen out with Naidu in recent times, is reportedly planning to quit the Telugu Desam in a short time and devote full time to the new outfit. ?I cannot go along any more with Naidu and as such, I am quitting the Desam soon,? she said. It is known that Chowdhury is nursing a grudge ever since Naidu denied her a party ticket for the 1998 Lok Sabha elections. ?I am doing everything hurriedly as elections to the Andhra Pradesh Assembly are due in November. Keeping an eye on the elections, I have also started going to people and telling them about the necessity of forming a new outfit.? Chowdhury said she is also in touch with NTR?s son Harikrishna, a former minister in Naidu?s Cabinet who too has fallen out with chief minister. ?Harikrishna is no more with Naidu and is touring the state to mobilise public opinion. So I am hopeful of garnering his support,? she said. By all accounts, Chowdhury?s move to rope in Harikrishna is being viewed as an attempt to counter Naidu jointly in the coming elections. ?I am left with no option but to strengthen the outfit to fight Naidu, who is training his guns on me all the time,? she said. Trinamul sources said Banerjee has welcomed Chowdhury?s move, despite her good relations with Naidu, because the development gives her an opportunity to set up Trinamul shop in other states. Trinamul general secretary Dinesh Trivedi, who had spoken to Chowdhury tonight, later claimed Harikrishna too would join Banerjee?s party. ?I have enough indication that NTR?s son is fond of Mamata and will come to Calcutta to talk to her before the Assembly polls in November,? he said. Trinamul MP and spokesman Sudip Bandopadhyay also confirmed the formation of the party in Andhra Pradesh. ?It is good that Trinamul is expanding its base in the country,? he said. A Congress leader from Bihar called on Trivedi at Banerjee?s south Calcutta residence tonight. ?Congress leaders and those from like-minded parties are regularly contacting us, not only from Bihar but several other states, including Uttar Pradesh,? Trivedi added. He said former Bihar chief minister Jagannath Mishra too had approached Banerjee for allowing his son to float Trinamul?s Bihar unit. ?We have reservations about Mishra himself but we are seriously considering an appeal from his son,? Trivedi added. Meanwhile, Banerjee, eager to bail out the BJP-led coalition of the crisis it is in, today is said to have spoken to a dozen leaders from like-minded parties for garnering support. However, the leader herself was not available for comment.    
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