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Congress yields to Mamta in West Bengal

By A Correspondent in Delhi
March 12, 2009 19:43 IST
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Trinamul Congress chief Mamata Bannerjee's ultimatum of "48 hours" to finalise sharing of seats in West Bengal
worked. Without asking for more seats, the Congress on Thursday talked  of "larger perspective of defeating the Communist Party of India-Marxist" in deciding to contest only 14 Lok Sabha seats, leaving the remaining 26 seats in the state for her party.

Six of these seats are already held by the Congress, including External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee's Jangipur and the long-time hospitalised Minister without Portfolio Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi's Raiganj which may go to his wife. 

West Bengal incharge K Keshava Rao conveyed the decision to Mamata and later told a crowded press conference at the All India Congress Committe headquarters that the state party would recommend names of candidates by Friday.

Asked if the doors for a post-poll alliance with the Left had been closed by allying with Mamata, Rao quipped that his concern was going to polls and winning them while what is to be done after the polls is a matter of strategy for the leadership to decide.

Congress spokesman Manish Tewari was, however, quick to correct him, stating that the party was doing the seat adjustment with the like-minded parties in the states and "we are confident that the UPA will form the government on our own steam."

Tewari also announced 25 more Lok Sabha candidates -- 12 from Madhya Pradesh, 11 from Assam and one each for Chandigarh and Nagaland -- and they included half a dozen union ministers.

The Union Ministers figuring in the latest list are Commerce Minister Kamalnath and junion Communication minister Jyotiraditya Scindia from their traditional Chhidwara and Guna seats repectively in Madhya Pradesh, Minister
of State for Agriculture Kantilal Bhuria, who shifted from Jhabua to Ratlam, Sontosh Mohan Dev and B K Handique from Silchar and Jorhat respectively in Assam and Minister of State for Finance Pawan Kumar Bansal from Chandigarh.

The list includes lottery "king" M K Subba seeking re-election from Tezpur in Assam. Subba is said to be nominated because he is believed to be bank rolling the entire Congress election in Assam. The Congress has ignored the legal tangle over his nationality as he is alleged to be a Nepal citizen.

74-year old former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Nedurumalli Janardhana Reddy, a Lok Sabha member for the last three terms, was declared the Congres candidate for the Rajya Sabha byelection from the state and named eight candidates for the biennial Andhra Pradesh legislative council elections from the local authorities' constituencies. They included D V Suryanarayana Raju from Visakhapatnam, R Venkatarama Reddy from Nizamabad Reddy, K Jadeeshwar Redy from Mahabubabad and N Vidyasagar from Nalgonda.

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A Correspondent in Delhi