No Chance, Says Left After Mamata Banerjee Suggests Joining Hands

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New Delhi, Nov 19: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's enthusiasm for an anti-BJP coalition that includes her arch rival, the Left, is not shared by the latter.

Sitaram Yechury of the CPM has said the Left can have no alliance with Mamata. "If communal forces came to the state, what is the reason? TMC gave it the opportunity to come... TMC which has brought the danger is now talking of fighting against it," he said, in response to Ms Banerjee's comment that she is willing to join such a national platform if the Congress takes the initiative to form the group.

The BJP's Babul Supriyo, West Bengal's only central minister, has mocked Ms Banerjee, saying she is "frantically sending out friend requests, but is unlikely to get any response."

On Tuesday, Ms Banerjee told to a tv channel, "I am ready to be part of a national platform which includes the Left to fight communalism. This is not the same as an alliance in West Bengal, we will fight alone there."

She also said, "I feel Congress should take the lead. If you don't take the lead, sometimes, other forces fill that space."

Both Mamata and the Left attended a conference organised by the Congress to commemorate the 125th birth anniversary of India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. The ruling BJP was not invited to what the Congress billed as an "assembly of secular parties."

Ms Banerjee had, in 2011, won a massive mandate to rule Bengal, ending the Left's 34-year-long run. She has strengthened her position in the state in local elections held since and in the national elections this year in which her party, the Trinamool Congress won 34 of Bengal's 42 seats.

But Ms Banerjee has been unnerved by recent gains made by the BJP.

The BJP, a non-entity in Bengal so far, won two parliamentary seats, allowing it a foothold in the state, which votes in two years for its next government. It also won a recent assembly by-election and has launched a state-wide recruitment drive, which is reportedly drawing a strong response.

Till 2012, Ms Banerjee was part of the Congress-led coalition government at the Centre; she exited over economic reforms that she described as "anti-people." She had earlier also been part of a BJP-led NDA government under Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

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