Kolkata: Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee has said ally Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee could head the government in case the alliance came to power in West Bengal after the Assembly elections next year.
In a TV programme, she said the alliance with the Congress will be kept intact for the Assembly elections, but warned that she would not tolerate any "blackmail".
Responding to a question, she said she might not contest the Assembly polls and devote time for campaigning though she could always enter the House within six months in the event of becoming the chief minister.
The Railway Minister said in the programme last night that she had also told Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee that he could head the government in West Bengal in case the Trinamool Congress-Congress alliance came to power.
On who would handle the railway portfolio if she became the chief minister, she contended that it would remain with the Trinamool Congress as long as it was an ally of the central government. "After all, the Trinamool Congress has only one Cabinet minister."
Refusing to join issue with Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi that his party wanted an alliance "with honour", she said, "I will not give my opinion on comments by others. But I personally don't like blackmail and also do not like others doing so."
Dismissing reports she had referred to Gandhi as a seasonal bird, she said, "I had compared the CPI(M) with a seasonal bird because it makes promises before elections."
Banerjee said she had high regard for former prime minster Rajiv Gandhi and Congress president Sonia Gandhi and added that, "Rahul is still learning the ropes in politics. Don't try to create a quarrel amongst us. Let him rise further and I bless him."
Banerjee maintained that she would not severe ties with the Congress at the national level despite the Centre not conceding her demand for withdrawal of joint forces from Lalgarh, but her party would continue to voice the demand.
"We still believe that if anyone trusts us we will trust them 101 per cent. We want a big party should behave with a small party in that perspective. Likewise, the small party should also behave with the big party in a similar fashion."
She pointed out that Congress had snapped the alliance during the civic polls this year when both the parties fought against each other and during the Siliguri civic polls last year when the Congress formed the local body with CPI(M) support after the elections.
"There are instances of Congress entering into post-poll understanding with the CPI(M) to form the government like the first UPA government at the Centre after getting seats far short of majority to form the government," Banerjee said.
She also claimed that the alliance with Congress in the Assembly elections depended on the people. "It is the people who matter the most. The people are the best judge and we should all respect their aspirations."
On the contentious issue of land acquisition, Banerjee said the government should not acquire land for private entities.
In case of acquisition, over and above the compensation, the government should return one-tenth of the acquired land fully developed to the owner for commercial use.
One person in the family of the land loser should be given a government job and in case this was not possible the family should be given monthly pension for 30 years, she said when asked to comment on the Centre's move to push through an amendment to the Land Acquisition Act of 1894.