WB Polls: Congress yet to decide on joining govt if alliance wins

Pranab Mukherjee said Cong has not yet decided whether to join the govt in case TMC comes to power.

Kolkata: Senior Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday said his party has not yet decided whether to join the government in case their alliance with Trinamool comes to power in West Bengal, and will take a call at appropriate time.

"We will think of crossing the bridge when we will be nearer to the river," Mukherjee told reporters while releasing the Congress poll manifesto.

The Union Finance Minister said his party will support the government, but joining it will be decided by the Congress leadership at the appropriate time.

In a bid to stem dissent in the Congress ranks after seat-sharing with Trinamool Congress was sealed, Mukherjee warned rebels contesting as Independents against official nominees saying they would face six-year expulsion from the party as per the party constitution.

He pointed out there was no need for forming any disciplinary committee to deal with them.

Mukherjee said the PCC president had been vested with adequate power in this regard and would wait till the last day of withdrawal of nominations in the concerned seats before expelling the rebels.

In a message to four rebel sitting MLAs, including the six-time legislator in a Kolkata seat Ram Pyare Ram, who were denied nomination this time and who announced subsequently that they would contest on their own, Mukherjee said, "Nobody can claim that to obtain a ticket is one`s birthright. It is for the party to decide."

He said in West Bengal the party did not have much of elected representatives, but still it renominated them.

"I was a member of the working committee of the Congress and unofficially I was no. two in Mrs India Gandhi`s cabinet. But in the 1989 Lok Sabha election I did not get nomination from the party. So it is not a very big thing. I wanted to contest the election in 1989, but the party decided against it."

The seat-sharing between the two parties, reached last month for the election to the 294-member Assembly, saw Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee clinching it on her terms, leaving only 65 seats to the Congress.

Congress rebels have already filed nominations as Independents in certain constituencies in north Bengal where there are 54 seats, the last day of withdrawal of nominations being tomorrow. Election in these seats would be held on April 18.