Wednesday, August 14, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Trinamool Cong parts ways with NDA
T.R. Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

Trinamool chief Mamta Banerjee along with her senior party leaders
Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee along with her senior party leaders Sougata Roy and Pankaj Banerjee talking to the media in New Delhi on Tuesday. — PTI photo

New Delhi, August 13
Much to the disappointment of her party colleagues, the Trinamool Congress chief, Ms Mamata Banerjee, once again took the inevitable step of coming out of the BJP-led NDA on the controversial issue of bifurcation of Eastern Railway.

The Trinamool Congress could not have taken any other course of action after it had given an ultimatum to the NDA from Kolkata. The Atal Behari Vajpayee government has maintained that the reorganisation of the zones in the gigantic railway network had become imperative due to operational reasons.

On her part Ms Banerjee, however, has not shut the doors on the NDA this time. She said after her party’s working committee meeting here today that “Until and unless the issue of the railways bifurcation is sorted out to our satisfaction, the Trinamool Congress will not be a part and parcel of the NDA.”

It was a desperate entreaty to the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, to intervene and sort out the bifurcation of the Eastern Railway.

There is a section in the NDA which believes that if Ms Banerjee wants to make the bifurcation of Eastern Railway a prestige issue then she is free to chart her own course in West Bengal. The arithmetic for the NDA without the Trinamool Congress is more than comfortable without posing any serious problems.

It is widely believed in NDA circles that Ms Banerjee has bitten more than she can chew. She has sought to take the agitational path in West Bengal to boost her sagging image. Her own party colleagues do not agree with the extreme step that she has taken and for want of any another option have decided to meekly fall in line.

She made it a point to explain that she was in the Capital till August 17 and that before she returned to Kolkata, she will be happy to meet Mr Vajpayee if the Prime Minister so desired.

Meanwhile, BJP spokesperson Arun Jaitley said their party would appeal to the Trinamool Congress to reconsider its decision particularly when the Union Cabinet had reviewed the bifurcation of Eastern Railway and decided to go ahead with the reorganisation of the zones in the Railways. “The NDA will hold a formal meeting and react to Ms Banerjee’s decision to part ways with the NDA,” he added.

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