New Delhi: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s decision to attend the oath-taking ceremonies of Parkash Singh Badal and Akhilesh Yadav as Chief Ministers of Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, is sure to make the Congress unhappy.
The Trinamool Congress yesterday in an SMS response said, “I will try to attend the swearing-in ceremonies" of Badal and Yadav.”
While Badal had telephoned Mamata on Friday inviting her to attend his swearing in ceremony on March 14, SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav had spoken to her on phone few days ago extending the invite to attend the oath-taking in Lucknow on March 15.
Mamata’s decision comes when the media and political circles are abuzz with the possibility of formation of a Third Front by the regional parties, including the TMC, after a good show by them in recent polls.
It goes without saying that Mamata’s visit to Punjab and UP will leave Congress red-faced as Akalis are in alliance with BJP and the TMC being the biggest ally of the UPA the talks of the emergence of a Third Front will only boil further.
Notably, Mamata sometime ago joined hands with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik for development of the eastern region.
However, the TMC chief a day ago laid to rest all speculation of a possible withdrawal of her party’s support to the UPA.
According to a leading West Bengal based newspaper, Banerjee had categorically stated that she is not a ‘traitor’ and is not in favour of breaking ties with Congress.
Mamata has been at loggerheads with the UPA over various issue like FDI, NCTC, Lokayukta and fuel prices.
Congress downplays invitations
Ruling out any possibility of grouping of anti-Congress, anti-BJP chief ministers, Congress Saturday tried to downplay the invitations extended by Samajwadi Party and Akali Dal to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for their swearing-in ceremonies, terming them "political courtesy".
"I don`t think such groupings are possible. I personally feel that no UPA (United Progressive Alliance) chief minister will be a party to any such grouping," Congress general secretary and Bengal in-charge Shakeel Ahmed told a news agency.
Asked about Mulayam Singh Yadav`s Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh and Parkash Singh Badal`s Akali Dal in Punjab inviting Banerjee to attend the swearing in of their governments, he said such things are done as a matter of courtesy in politics.
"This is political courtesy. Such things do happen in politics. Don`t we invite representatives of others parties in such ceremonies," he said.
After a poor show in the Uttar Pradesh polls, the Congress appears to be softening its stand towards ally Trinamool Congress. This was already evident in West Bengal after the state Congress chief Pradipt Bhatacharya, who had adopted a belligerent posture until recently, said earlier this week the two parties are "natural allies".
Political observers feel that after its poor showing in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Goa, the Congress would now be more dependent on the Trinamool - which has 20 MPs in the Lok Sabha and six in the Rajya Sabha.
The two parties are partners in both the central and West Bengal government. But while Congress does not have a simple majority of its own, the Trinamool has numbers in the state.