TC gives another day to Cong on seat-sharing deal

Kolkata: Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, who had set this evening as the deadline for the Congress to come to an agreement on seat-sharing, would wait till Thursday following talks with the Congress high command.

A highly-placed Trinamool source today said it is therefore unlikely that the list of Trinamool Congress candidates for the Assembly poll will be released today.

“We cannot wait till March 21. It seems we are not releasing our list of candidates today and would wait for the day,“ the source said adding `I cannot say exactly what transpired in the telephonic talks with the Congress high command`. He would not elaborate.

A close aide of Mukherjee, however, told PTI from Delhi that there were talks over telephone between Mukherjee and Mamata Banerjee yesterday. He refused to give any further details.

PCC general secretary Krishna Debnath told PTI a Pradesh Congress election meeting was held today in the wake of the `the latest development` to take stock of the situation.

She said five party Lok Sabha members from West Bengal — Adhir Chowhury (Berhampore Lok Sabha seat), Deepa Dasmunshi (Raiganj seat), A H Khan Chowdhury (Malda-South constituency), Abdul Mannan Hossain (Murshidababad) and Mausum Benajir Noor (Malda North) — have been summoned to Delhi today by Mukherjee for discussion on the seat-sharing deal.

Yesterday Trinamool Congress had rejected Congress` plea to defer finalization of seat-sharing till the return of AICC president Sonia Gandhi from abroad and threatened to release the list of its candidates if no agreement was reached by today.

Trinamool general secretary Mukul Roy said here yesterday that Gandhi?s political secretary Ahmed Patel had spoken to party chief Mamata Banerjee yesterday and requested her to wait till March 21 when Gandhi would return from abroad for the finalization of seat-sharing.

However, Banerjee had told Patel that she could wait only till Thursday (March 17) evening and announce the list of Trinamool candidates if the Congress high command failed to resolve the deadlock on seat-sharing by that time, Roy said.

Congress sources in Delhi said Mamata has offered 62 seats to it, up from 58 she had offered initially, but the revised figure is not acceptable to the party.

Congress leaders are expecting around 70 seats to be allotted to the party from Mamata. West Bengal Assembly has 294 seats.

Two Congress seats in Kolkata — Kabitirtha and Garden Reach – have disappeared after delimitation. And in their place two new seats were created — Kolkata Port and Metiabruz.

Mamata wants two of these constituencies – a demand not acceptable to Congress.