Differences over seat sharing between Cong-TC narrow down

Differences between Congress and Trinamool over seat-sharing for the West Bengal Assembly polls appeared to have narrowed down.

New Delhi: Differences between Congress
and Trinamool over seat-sharing for the West Bengal Assembly
polls appeared to have narrowed down today with the two
parties holding a series of confabulations involving senior
party leaders.

Sources said that Congress has whittled down its wish
list from 100 to 75 seats while Trinamool, which was initially
offering only 45 seats, is now willing to go up to 60 in the
294-member state Assembly.

Mamata Banerjee`s emissaries Mukul Roy and Sultan
Ahmed held parleys with Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and
CWC`s member in charge of Congress affairs in West Bengal
Shakeel Ahmed in a "very cordial" atmosphere, the sources
said.

The meetings took place a day after Congress
President`s political secretary Ahmed Patel had a talk with
TMC chief Mamata Banerjee on the seat-sharing issue.

Sources said that a formal announcement in this regard
is likely after Mukherjee visits Kolkata in a day or two.

The TMC leaders had a two-hour meeting in the day
with Ahmed, Janardhan Poojari (the Congress screening
committee chairman in charge of West Bengal) and party`s state
chief Manas Bhuiyan.

"There is nothing wrong in political parties seeking
larger number of seats for themselves. It is so natural in an
alliance. Every party wants the best deal for it," Ahmed told
reporters.

TMC is inclined to agree to 60 seats to Congress which
includes 39 of the 49 assembly segments where Congress had a
lead in the last assembly elections.

Sources in Congress said that the initial offer of
seats by Banerjee`s party included only around 10 winnable
seats, adding, in any case both parties have to contest on
some tough seats.

"Talks took place in a very cordial atmosphere and we
are hopeful to reach an agreement very soon," a senior UPA
leader said.

After the meeting with TMC counterparts, Congress
leaders briefed Mukherjee about the talks. Later, party
leaders from West Bengal led by Bhunia also met Mukherjee.

West Bengal Assembly elections will be held in six
phases starting April 18. Congress has six MPs and 19 MLAs in
the state while Trinamool Congress has 19 MPs and 30 MLAs from
the state.

PTI