Trinamool-Cong seat talks hit roadblock, wait on for Sonia now

Patel says postpone list till March 21, Mamata says tell your plan by Thursday

The absence of Congress president Sonia Gandhi from the country has put a spanner on the seat-sharing talks between the Congress and the Trinamool Congress ahead of the crucial Assembly elections in West Bengal.

On Wednesday evening, Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee, who is under immense pressure from her party workers to release the list of the candidates, received a call from Gandhi's political secretary Ahmed Patel urging her to postpone the announcement of the candidates' list till March 21.

"Since our president Sonia Gandhi is not in the country, we request you not do anything till she returns on March 21," Patel reportedly told Banerjee.

But the Trinamool has stuck to her gun and told Patel that the Congress would have to tell her the party's plan by Thursday evening.

"Postponing it to March 21 will be very late. You will have to tell me your stand by tomorrow evening,'' party insiders quoted Mamata as saying to Patel.

Earlier in the day Banerjee had a telephonic conversation with senior Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee. What transpired between them, however, is not yet known.

Meanwhile, party workers from across the state have been thronging Banerjee's Kalighat residence for the last few days and eagerly waiting for the release of the candidates' list. But all Banerjee has been telling them is: "Go back to your respective areas and concentrate on work. Do not bother about whether there is an alliance or not, who is getting a ticket or not. Just work."

Party insiders say that Banerjee has already prepared a list of 294 candidates and if the deadlock continues, she may announce some of her candidates in next 48 hours. "We are very hopeful that every discord will be settled and the alliance will be formed. But if the process takes too long a time then Didi (Mamata) might announce the names of the candidates of those seats where there is no contention between Congress and Trinamool," a senior party leader said.

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