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Pranab accepts responsibility for failure of grand alliance

Written by: Staff

Kolkata, Apr 19: West Bengal Pradesh Congress President Pranab Mukherjee today said he was ready to accept responsibility for the failure of an attempted grand alliance with Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress in the state.

''It is an off-the-cuff remark that all opposition parties should unite to oust the Left Front Government. If this theory has to be accepted the Congress should enter into separate alliances in Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh against Nitish Kumar, the BJP and the Telugu Desham Party,'' Mr Mukherjee said while talking to newspersons at a meet-the-press progromme here.

''Then where does the Congress stand and what is need for so many parties,'' he added.

The democracy in the country was based on a multi-party system and there was nothing wrong in the division among the opposition parties in the system, Mr Mukherjee said.

There were six national and 29 recognised regional parties and nothing is stipulated in the Constitution that all the Opposition should be united against the ruling party or coalition, he added.

''If that has to be done there should be only two parties,'' he said.

Putting the blame on Ms Banerjee for the failed effort for a grand alliance, the Defence Minister said he had requested the Trinamool supremo to sever ties with the National Democratic Alliance with an overture for leading a secular and non-left coalition against the Left which did not happen.

''I only strictly adhered to our party line that there should be no truck with the BJP directly or indirectly...if one asks me I am gladly prepared to accept the responsibility for the alliance not becoming a reality,'' he said.

Admitting that the Left Front had been continuing in power with people's support, Mr Mukherjee said if the people voted the ruling coalition for a seventh time then that should be accepted, ''whatever the consequences may be.'' In reply to a question on the chemistry of the Front retaining power for 29 years, the PCC chief said there was nothing abnormal in it and reminded that the Congress had a prolonged stint over all the North Indian states, Maharashtra, Bihar and Assam between 1952 and 1990 and ruled the states like Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka for 31 years at a stretch.

''Under Parliamentary democracy there is no question of any chemistry for retaining power for long in states or even at the national level. A party or a coalition can rule as long as the people will vote them,'' he said.

Expressing satisfaction over the first phase of polling in the state, Mr Mukherjee said he had no complaints regarding the process nor had he received any allegation of rigging anywhere. The massive turnout of voters became possible becaue of the people's increased awareness about voting right and the lesser time for casting vote through machine than stamping a ballot paper, he said.

He, however, said even in the manual voting system, there were instances of high percentage of polling.

Admtting that his party was struggling to cope with internal squabbling in Murshidabad district, Mr Mukherjee said two rebel candidates had been pitted against the official nominees at two places even though a third one could be persuaded to withdraw from the fray.

''Our party proved in the last Assembly, Lok Sabha and Municipal elections that it was a big force in the district. But it is unfortunate that we are facing this problem though efforts are on to solve it,'' he said.

Mr Mukherjee also admitted that few candidates of the party was forging alliance with the Trinamool Congress at local levels despite directive from the PCC, but said the party was not considering any action against the move right this moment.


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