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May 21, 2009 at 12:41pm IST

Mamata wants Common Minimum Programme

New Delhi: Bolstered by its success at the polls, is the Congress now dropping its coalition dharma and strong-arming allies? Unlike 2004, the Congress is ruling out a Common Minimum Programme for the ruling coalition.

Armed with 206 seats, the Congress party is now an irresistable force. But that is till it met an unmovable object in its path - Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Bannerjee, with a crucial 19 MPs.

It took the firebrand didi from West Bengal to give Congress's muscle-flexing a bit of a downer. Coming out of the UPA meeting, Mamata Bannerjee made a demand that has certainly startled the Congress: she wants a Common Minimum Programme, though she doesn't specify that it has to be a written one.

"I said that there should be a Common Minimum Programme. A committee should be formed on this and parties consulted," she said.

Topping her agenda is the getting rid of the Left, which is why she wants SEZs, farmers' rights and so on to be included in the Common Minimum Programme. The Congress, which had obviously planned not to have a Common Minimum Programme as it did in 2004, wants to buy time and is trying to play down Mamata's demand.

"There was no mention of a Common Minimum Programme. We will consider the common points of various manifestos and this would be done under a small group," said Congress leader Janardhan Dwivedi.

The dominant view in the Congress is against any pre-agreed programme with allies in 2004 keeping in mind the way the Left had repeatedly accused the party of violating the understanding and used the Common Minimum Programme to tie down Manmohan Singh's hands.

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