Cong to decide soon on joining Mamata ministry

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New Delhi: With Mamata Banerjee wanting it to join the Trinamool Congress-led government in West Bengal, Congress is likely to take a decision on the matter shortly.

The Congress Legislature Party, which has 42 newly-elected MLAs, would meet in Kolkata tomorrow to discuss the issue.

The meeting is likely to be attended by top central party leaders, including senior leader Shakeel Ahmed who is in-charge of the party affairs in the state, WBPCC chief Manas Bhuiyan said.

Asked whether the party had any hesitation in joining the government, he said, "There is no hesitation at all. … We will await directions (from the party high command). We have already expressed our total support to the Trinamool Congress government."

"We will get to know whatever is to be decided (on joining the ministry). Wait for a day or two," Bhuiyan said, parrying questions on how many berths or who among the Congress MLAs were likely to be inducted.

Banerjee is slated to be sworn in as Chief Minister on Friday and speculation is rife that a 30-member ministry might be in place in which the Congress could get two to three ministerial berths.

Fresh from the victory in the elections to the 294-member Assembly, Banerjee had a series of meetings with Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and other Congress leaders during which she requested Congress to join the new ministry.

Bhuiyan, who met Congress President Sonia Gandhi here today, is likely to meet party General Secretary Rahul Gandhi soon. He said he had briefed the Congress chief on the post-poll scenario and "will await her directions" on the future course of action, including government formation.

He also claimed that his party would have won "at least 80 seats had we got 92 that we had sought from Trinamool Congress during seat-sharing talks."

Asked whether Congress would support Trinamool`s demands for withdrawal of central security forces, halt to anti-Maoist operations and release of "political prisoners", Bhuiyan just said, "Let the government be formed….. It is an administrative matter."

Appealing for an end to the spate of post-poll violence in the state, the Congress leader said, "There has to be political space for the Opposition (Left parties). Violence must be stopped. These are sensitive times. No party wants this violence to continue."

He demanded that combing operations be continued in the state to recover illegal weapons.

The WBPCC chief said the main thrust of the new government should be to restore the state`s financial health as it had become "bankrupt".

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