New Delhi: In a continuing war of words, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee on Thursday dared UPA chief Sonia Gandhi to drop her party from the alliance. Refuting Congress' allegations of a breach of decorum, Mamata claimed that she is still part of the UPA but the Congress can ask her to leave if the party wants to. "I am not leaving UPA. But if the big boss of the big party feels I am unwanted then they should ask me to leave. My intention is not to topple the government but if they feel we are unwanted or a liability let them say; I am ready to leave," threatened Mamata.
Mamata also stated that she is not afraid of anyone and does not threaten other parties. "I am not scared of anyone and I did not threaten other political parties," Mamata said while addressing the media in New Delhi.
Standing firm, Mamata told CNN-IBN that Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav has assured her of his support in the President poll. The two are expected to meet again later in the day before Mulayam heads to 10, Janpath. "We have named capable persons for the President's post. We gave out three names because there was no consensus," said Mamata.
However, the Congress said that she's still an ally. Lashing out at Mamata, Congress spokesperson Janardhan Dwivedi said, "Names come up during discussions and there is sanctity to close door talks. Mamata should not have announced the details of the meeting in public."
A humiliated Congress is working all channels to isolate Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee now. The Congress core committee meeting is taking place after a short one-on-one meet between UPA chief Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
The Congress has also called a UPA meeting on Friday and Mamata has said that she will will skip that meeting.
It appears that Mamata seems to have taken the stand that she will not under any circumstances support Pranab Mukherjee's name for the President. "We will not go back on our proposal," added Mamata.
Sonia has also invited Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav for talks on Wednesday evening as the Congress hopes to win him over.
The Congress, meanwhile, publicly made its choice clear - it is Pranab Mukherejee or Hamid Ansari for them. Sources said that the Samajawadi Party-Trinamool Congress choice Kalam will contest only if he is assured of a win.
Mamata had met Sonia on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the possible candidates for the President and then told the media that Pranab Mukherjee and Hamid Ansari were the Congress candidates. Later on Wednesday evening she met Mulayam and put forward three names - Somnath Chatterjee, APJ Abdul Kalam and Manmohan Singh - while keeping quite on Pranab and Ansari. The inclusion of Manmohan’s name was seen a stinging indictment of the Congress-led UPA government.
The announcement by the TMC and Samajwadi Party chiefs stunned the Congress but now the party seems to be strategising to checkmate the Mamata-Mulayam duo by going in for Pranab Mukherjee's candidature for the President's post. Sonia Gandhi met Pranab on Thursday at her residence. She also met Defence Minister AK Antony, Home Minister P Chidambaram and DMK leader TR Baalu on Thursday.
Sources say that the Congress will name its candidate in within the next 24 hours.