Bengal Congress raises pitch for RS seat

Bengal Congress raises pitch for RS seat

By: || Updated: 11 Mar 2012 09:06 PM

The West Bengal Congress has threatened "fresh confrontations" with ally
Trinamool if Mamata Banerjee refuses to back the sole Congress nominee
from Bengal for the March 30 Rajya Sabha polls.

"We have already confronted Trinamool over poor paddy price, rising crib
deaths and bad governance. A fresh confrontation with Trinamool is
inevitable if it does not back our nominee for the polls," said a PCC
general secretary.

A Trinamool MP said the party "is not bound to back a Congress nominee".
"We may field a fourth nominee for the Rajya Sabha polls though no final
decision has been taken in this regard. But we are least bothered about
what the Congress thinks about it. We are a majority in Bengal and people
are with us," he added.

Five persons from the state will be elected to the Upper House on March 30
as five seats will fall vacant on April 2.

The filing of nomination will start on Monday and the last date of
withdrawal has been fixed for March 19.

On the basis of its present strength in the 294-member House (185 seats),
Trinamool will send three members to the Upper House while the Left (61
seats) only one.

The Trinamool MP said junior shipping minister Mukul Roy would be
re-elected for the second time, while two other candidates would be chosen
from Mamata's culture clan.

Trinamool will have 38 extra votes while the Left will have 12 votes
remaining after their candidates get elected. If Trinamool wants to get
its fourth nominee elected, it would require 11 more votes from the
Congress which has 42 legislators and one Independent MLA, Hamidul Rahman.

"Instead of backing Trinamool nominee, we want Mamataji to help our
candidate win the Rajya Sabha polls by giving six votes from her kitty of
38," said AICC's Bengal in-charge Shakeel Ahmed.

Ahmed met Mamata on Saturday, seeking her party's support to get the
Congress's sole nominee from Bengal elected to the Rajya Sabha.

"But she did not commit on backing our candidate. She had, however, told
me that she would let us know after discussing the matter with her party
colleagues. We are determined to field our nominee," Ahmed said over the
phone from Patna.

The AICC leader said he would reach Delhi on Monday to recommend a list of
proposed party nominees to Congress president Sonia Gandhi so that she
could pick one of them.

"Pranabda, Pradipji (Bhattacharya) and I will sit together to finalise the
list of three/four candidates tomorrow and hand it over to the Congress
president so that she can pick one candidate from them," he added.

Asked what would be the fate of the Congress nominee if Mamata did not
back him, he averted the question but said: "We are confident of our
nominee's smooth sail even if Mamataji does not back our nominee."

Although Shakeel did not elaborate on the matter, the Trinamool MP did not
mince words. "They (the Congress) are banking on the Left for the six
votes? The same episode happened in 1994 when Pranab Mukherjee was elected
to the Rajya Sabha with Left votes."

An AICC leader in Delhi, however, said that Trinamool had no option but to
"back our nominee" after getting its three candidates elected. "If our
candidate wins with support from the Left, it would be disgraceful both
for us and our ally," said the leader.

- The Telegraph, Calcutta

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