Mamata to skip UPA meet, dares Congress to snap ties

A combative West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banarjee Thursday said she would not attend the UPA meeting on the presidential poll Friday and dared the Congress to sever ties with her, if it so wanted.

"I have not left (the United Progressive Alliance), if they want me to leave then it is for the UPA to take a call. We don't want to topple the UPA government. The ball is in the Congress's court," she told media persons.

Making it clear that she was not attending the UPA meeting Friday, Banerjee said that she was staying back only to meet Samajwadi party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav for holding some consultations.

"It is me and Mulayam Singh who had jointly announced the three names for the presidential candidate but Congress has rejected all the three." Banerjee along with Mualayam Singh had suggested the name of former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and former Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee as probable candidates to succeed President Pratibha Patil who demits office July 24.

Annoyed with the Congress over the rejection of three names, Banerjee said that if any threats were made to her, she would respond to them appropriately.  "I will face the situation when it comes," she said, adding "We don't give threats to any one nor do we take threats."

Banerjee described Kalam as "number one and the best candidate". She stressed it "is not a local body or a gram Sabha or an MLA (legislator) or MP's election" but that of the president, who represents the country to the world.

Terming Kalam the best choice, Banerjee, however, sought to erase the impression that she was backing the choice of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance government of the then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

"Even before NDA had made Kalam their presidential nominee in 2002, it was me and Mulayam Singh Yadav who had proposed his name," she asserted. The Trinamool supremo also rejected the suggestion if the political divide between the UPA meant that country was heading towards mid-term polls. "This has nothing to do with mid-term elections."

"Who has asked for consensus," she burst out to queries on whether there were no chances of consensus on the presidential candidate. Banerjee also declined to comment on Samajwadi Party leader Ramgopal Yadav's comment that his party was open to discussing other options.

Comments (+)