Moradabad: Reacting to Trinamool Congress MP Derek O’Brien’s remark that his party will contest the upcoming Lok Sabha elections alone, Jairam Ramesh said on Saturday that the Congress’s discussions with the TMC for an alliance in West Bengal are underway. Downplaying the leader’s remark, the politician said heated discussions keep taking place between the two parties but “we respect Mamata Banerjee”.

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said his party respects Mamata Banerjee.(PTI file photo)

Jairam Ramesh made the remark on the sidelines of Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra in Uttar Pradesh’s Moradabad.

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“Discussions are underway. Our doors are always open for TMC. Mamata Banerjee and TMC have said that they want to strengthen the INDIA Alliance and the biggest motive is to defeat the BJP,” he told ANI.

“Heated discussions keep taking place between the two parties but we respect Mamata Banerjee,” he added.

O’Brien, a close confidante of Banerjee, on Friday reiterated that the Trinamool Congress will contest in all 42 Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal.

“A few weeks ago, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee stated that TMC is fighting all the 42 seats in Bengal. We are also in the fray in a few seats in Assam and the Tura Lok Sabha seat in Meghalaya. There is no change in this position,” he said, indicating the party’s reluctance in entering into an alliance with its INDIA bloc partner Congress.

After initial hiccups, the Congress has finalised its seat-sharing deals with the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh and the Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi.

“The important thing is that an official announcement has been made for the alliance(in UP)…It took time to give it a final form…Today, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Congress are also making an official announcement about the alliance. It was being said again and again that Congress is lazy and not interested but I always said that it takes time,” Ramesh said today.

Mamata Banerjee last month announced that her party will contest the elections in Bengal alone. She said she had offered the Congress two seats but the party rejected the proposed deal.

Later, in a savage attack at the Congress, Banerjee said the party will not even win 40 seats in the Lok Sabha polls.

“I doubt if you (Congress) will win 40. I was offering two seats and would have let them win. But they wanted more. I said okay, contest on all 42 then. Rejected! There has been no conversation with them since,” she said earlier this month.

The Congress, however, has been constantly trying to mollify Banerjee. Jairam Ramesh said earlier this month that the INDIA bloc couldn’t be imagined without her.


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