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Doors still open for alliance with TMC: Jairam Ramesh

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Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh

Congress general secretary and in-charge of communications Jairam Ramesh

Gwalior: Even as the Trinamool Congress has decided to contest all 42 Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal, the Congress on Sunday said doors are still open for an alliance with the Mamata Banerjee-led TMC for the upcoming general polls.

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Ahead of the opposition's rally in Patna, Congress general secretary and in-charge of communications Jairam Ramesh told PTI they are still hopeful and believe that when West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee says she is in the INDIA alliance, her priority is to defeat the BJP.

"We take that as a statement of her priority and intent," he said in Gwalior.

"We have not closed any doors. She has unilaterally announced that she will contest all 42 seats (in West Bengal), well that is her announcement. As far as we are concerned, talks are still continuing, the doors are still open and the final word will not be said till the final word is said," he said.

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On the rally to be held in Bihar capital Patna, Ramesh said it is a joint opposition rally and coming after the prime minister went there on Saturday.

"It's a very significant political rally and it shows the opposition unity to defeat the BJP and its allies," he said.

Former Congress president and Wayanad MP Rahul Gandhi has also given a break to his ongoing 'Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra' to take part in the rally, he said.

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"Today is the 50th day (of the yatra), there has been a slight change because Rahul Gandhi has to go to Patna for the opposition rally and Congress president Malliarjun Kharge is also going to participate in it," Ramesh said.

"So this morning, he (Gandhi) is going to have an interaction on the Agniveer issue. Then there will be a road show in Mohna. After that there is no yatra today. But tomorrow, on the 51st day, as planned and as scheduled, we will start from Shivpuri (in MP), " he said.

On the fifth day, he (Gandhi) will be in Ujjain and visit the holy Shri Mahakaleshwar temple, he said.

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Asked about the Lok Dal's participation in the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra in Uttar Pradesh recently, Ramesh said the "real" Lok Dal welcomed Rahul Gandhi during the yatra in Aligarh.

There were posters, banners and hoardings of former PMs Chaudhary Charan Singh, Indira Gandhi and the Lok Dal, he said.

"That was the real Lok Dal, asli Lok Dal, RLD (Rashtriya Lok Dal) is the nakli Lok Dal," he claimed.

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The RLD joined the BJP-led NDA after the central government recently conferred the Bharat Ratna posthumously on former PM Chaudhary Charan Singh.

Asked whether Rahul Gandhi will contest from the Wayanad Lok Sabha seat (in Kerala), Ramesh said, "That is under discussion and Rahul Gandhi will decide the seat." On the BJP declaring its first list of 195 candidates for the Lok Sabha polls, Ramesh said why should he comment on the saffron party's candidates.

"We are finalising our manifesto, our candidates and our seats in different states. My concern is what we are doing and not what the BJP is doing," he added.

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