It's a Mandate for Mamata: Pranab

Kolkata, May 15 (IANS) Describing the victory of the Trinamool Congress-led alliance in the West Bengal polls as a popular mandate for Mamata Banerjee, union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee Sunday said he was confident that she would be able to competently lead the state.

"Certainly this is her (Trinamool chief Banerjee's) victory. Within 13 years of forming a new party, she has defeated an organised outfit like the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) that spearheaded the Left Front," said Mukherjee.

"To defeat such an organised force in such a short time is no small task. Though we have helped her, the people's mandate is for her, for her popularity, for her leadership," the senior Congress leader said.

The Congress was part of the Trinamool-led alliance that swept the assembly polls in West Bengal Friday, ending the Left Front's unprecedented 34-year rule.

In the 294-member assembly, Trinamool and allies have won 227 seats - a three-fourths majority - leaving the Left Front with just 61 seats.

Mukherjee said the Congress will help her in governing the state and hoped that the way people have reposed faith in her, "she will lead the state as an administrator out of the present chaos, free from terror and into good financial health".

Banerjee was elected leader of the Trinamool legislature party Sunday and is likely to soon stake her claim to form the government by meeting Governor M.K. Narayanan.

Addressing the newly-elected 42 Congress legislators Sunday, Mukherjee said the party's general secretary in-charge of the state Shakeel Ahmed was talking to the legislators individually to ascertain their views on joining Banerjee's government.

"We are an all-India party. Whether we will be in the government or not you will know at the right time. The leadership will decide that," he said.

Justifying the decision to form an alliance with the Trinamool for the polls, he said: "This is the highest percentage of seats won by the Congress in a long time. We have got a better percentage of victorious candidates by fighting less number of seats."

"After a long time, the West Bengal Congress can elect a Rajya Sabha member on its own strength," he said.


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Title: It's a Mandate for Mamata: Pranab

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