August 1, 2002, Chandigarh, India
Mamata gives NDA 12 days
Kolkata, July 31
“We will wait till August 12, the day of the vice-presidential election, for the decision to be reviewed and if it is not done, then we will have no other option but to quit the NDA,” she told newsmen immediately after the party’s crucial working committee meeting here to decide on the party’s relationship with the NDA four days after the Union Cabinet rejected Trinamool’s demand for revoking the Eastern Railway split.
Ms Banerjee also said the party would boycott the vice-presidential election in protest against the bifurcation.
The Trinamool Congress working committee decided to launch a series of agitations till August 12, with a Bangla bandh on August 5 and a dharna in front of the Prime Minister’s house on the last day, she said.
She said the working committee of the party would meet again in New Delhi on August 13 to take a final decision on leaving the NDA.
Ms Banerjee said the party had refrained from taking a radical decision following a telephone call from PMO Minister Vijay Goel this morning, requesting her to give the Centre more time to find a solution to the vexed problem.
Her remarks coincided with government sources in New Delhi saying that the NDA was planning no action against the Trinamool chief for her outbursts against the Prime Minister’s Office.
Ms Banerjee, for the second day running made a veiled attack on Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani, saying that Mr Vajpayee hardly had control over the government now.
“Our support to the NDA was for Prime Minister Vajpayee, but the way the NDA government is being run, we have doubts whether the Prime Minister has the authority,” she said.
She invited the CPM and other political parties to jointly protest the bifurcation in the larger interests of the people of Bengal. She has already appealed to Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee to call an all-party meeting for a joint movement against the NDA government. CPM leader Anil Biswas, however, reiterated that Ms Banerjee should first pull out of the NDA and then only they would consider her invitation. He said they were opposed to any bandh at this stage. The Congress also decided not to participate in the bandh but said the party would not oppose it.
Ms Banerjee today also demanded a separate railway zone for six districts of North Bengal, which currently fall under the Katihar division of North Frontier Railway.
NEW DELHI: The Congress on Wednesday expressed agreement with Ms Banerjee’s remark against the Prime Minister’s Office, saying that the PMO had been “subjected to a remarkable unprecedented erosion of authority”.
“Ms Mamata is right in raising doubts about the august office,” party chief spokesman S. Jaipal Reddy told mediapersons.
Meanwhile, the BJP regretted the outbursts of Ms Mamata Banerjee against the Prime Minister and the Railway Minister and said it did not expect such a statement from an NDA ally.
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