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Mulayam, Badal invites Mamata; Congress downplays

After its poor showing in the Uttar Pradesh polls, the Congress appears to be softening its stand towards ally Trinamool Congress.



Kolkata: 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 IANS.

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.

Mulayam`s son Akhilesh Yadav is all set to take over the reins of Uttar Pradesh, while Badal would have another tenure at the helm in Punjab.

After its poor showing 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".

Ahmed Saturday met Banerjee and discussed a range of issues starting from state politics to national politics. This is his first meeting with Banerjee after the assembly poll results.

"It was a courtesy call. We have discussed a range of issues. We discussed both the national scenario and the state scenario. But I cannot divulge the details," he said.

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.

Trinamool has been stiffly opposing key central legislations and policies, including the Lokpall bill, foreign direct investment in retail and pension bill, as also the proposed land bill.

IANS

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