PM, Sonia in Bengal today, Mamata says no to sharing dais

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Malda (West Bengal), March 16: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi will inaugurate an engineering college here on Saturday. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is likely to skip the event and it was learnt that Banerjee had also asked her two ministers from Malda to boycott the programme.

Singh and Gandhi will inaugurate the college named after late Congress leader ABA Ghani Khan Chowdhury. Chowdhury's brother and sitting Congress MLA Abu Naser Khan Choudhury reportedly invited Banerjee to participate in the programme but the latter turned it down. The chief minister returned to Kolkata two days ago after a short trip to north Bengal.


Banerjee's Trinamool Congress (TMC) had pulled out from the Congress-led UPA government in September last year following differences over issues like foreign direct investment and fuel price hike and the Congress retaliated by ending its alliance with the TMC in the state.

The TMC was the second-biggest ally in the ruling dispensation and its pull-out had reduced the government into a minority, which was saved by parties like the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party.

The Congress and TMC continue to share a scarred relation and latest reports suggest that the Congress is tilting towards the Left Front to win an alliance and corner Banerjee more. The latter has also been expressing her displeasure with the Centre for not providing financial aid on her terms.

The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha in the Darjeeling hills has been also at the loggerheads with the TMC government and could forge an alliance with the Congress before the next Lok Sabha polls.

The inauguration programme is expected to be attended by state Governor M K Natrayanana, Union ministers M Pallam Raju, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, M Pallam Raju, Deepa Dasmunshi and other state Congress leaders.

Security has been tightened in Malda down in the border district of Malda ahead of the high-profile programme.

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