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Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday turned down Congress high command Sonia Gandhi's invite for a dinner to be hosted at her residence in New Delhi for all UPA alliance partners on July 18 — the day before the election for the President of India.
Sources in the Trinamool Congress said Sonia's political secretary Ahmed Patel today called Mamata, who is on a four-day tour of North Bengal districts, and extended the dinner invitation.
Mamata, however, rejected the invite, saying she would be preoccupied with the July 21 Martyr's Day rally — a big event for the party.
Kunal Ghosh, a TMC -backed Rajya Sabha Member, said the party chief will be personally supervising the arrangements for the rally that will take place in Kolkata.
Party general secretary Mukul Roy has also asked all party MPs and MLAs to be in Kolkata when Mamata is expected to announce the party's stand on the presidential poll.
"These are the two reasons why Mamata cannot attend the dinner meeting. Nothing more should be read into it," Ghosh added.
Mamata's skipping Sonia's dinner thrown in support of UPA's presidential candidate Pranab Mukherjee is significant, as the Trinamool Congress has yet not disclosed its stand on the poll. It is, however, being said that the only option left for Mamata now was to abstain from voting given that she outrightly rejected Pranab's candidature for the President's post. Besides, P A Sangma is a difficult choice for her, as he is being backed by the BJP.
Mamata is also opposed to the UPA's nominee for the Vice-President's post, Hamid Ansari — something that is likely to be communicated to the when Mukul Roy, the railway minister and TMC general secretary, attends the UPA meet on the issue tomorrow.
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