The possibility of the Congress joining a Mamata Banerjee-led government in West Bengal brightened following discussions between Union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee and the Trinamul Congress chief and chief minister-in-waiting. The final decision, however, will be taken by Congress president Sonia Gandhi. Ms Banerjee said she would personally invite Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Mrs Gandhi to her swearing-in ceremony.
Ms Banerjee, who on Friday had repeatedly said she would like some of the Congress legislators in her Cabinet, extended a formal invitation to Mr Mukherjee. The two leaders held over an hour’s talks at Mr Mukherjee’s south Kolkata residence.
The meeting began at around 9 pm and continued till well past 10 pm. After the meeting, both leaders posed for photographs and both said the discussions were fruitful.
Before holding talks with Ms Banerjee, Mr Mukherjee, who arrived in Kolkata on Saturday morning with AICC general secretary in charge of West Bengal Shakeel Ahmad, held discussions with state Congress president Manas Bhunia.
After Ms Banerjee left Mr Mukherjee’s residence, Mr Bhunia again arrived and held discussions with the Union finance minister.
The leaders and Dr Ahmad will be meeting the newly-elected Congress legislators at the PCC office on Sunday morning to ascertain their views about participating in Ms Banerjee’s government. The Congress has won 42 Assembly seats.
Sources said that besides Congress participation in the government, Ms Banerjee also discussed money matters with Mr Mukherjee. She informed him that the Left Front government had left the state bankrupt and wanted him to bail out the state government she was about to form.
Meanwhile, Ms Banerjee will leaving for New Delhi on Sunday with Mr Mukherjee.
She will meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Mrs Sonia Gandhi and tender her resignation as Union railway minister.
She, however, is keen on keeping the ministry with her own party. Asian Age