Bowing to the colossal pressure of her West Bengal unit, Congress President Sonia Gandhi gave her approval to the party’s solo fight in the state in the coming Lok Sabha elections.
This was confirmed by West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury who met Sonia at her house at, 10 Janpath in the evening on Friday. The meeting lasted for about 40 minutes.
“She asked us whether we would be able and whether we had all the wherewithal to fight in all the 42 seats and I told her no only we were in a position to fight but despite the gloom projected I am sure we would do quite well. I also told her point blank that at this juncture if an alliance was made with the Trinamool Congress, the Indian National Congress in West Bengal will just wither away. We are happy that she has agreed and gave her approval for our solo fight,” Chowdhury told Indian Express from Delhi after the meeting.
He also said he had submitted a list of 17 candidates to the high command and he said he would submit the names for the remaining seats in a day or too.
Other Congress leaders were jubilant over the turn of events as there were speculations that despite the opposition of the state unit, the high command would push for an alliance and Chowdhury would swallow it.
“Sonia Gandhi is a great leader and she understood our politics well. Had there been an alliance we could have had a short-tern gain, but our party organisation would have perished. Now if we fight alone we could even do better that we expected,” Pradip Bhattacharya, former PCC president told Indian Express.
The Pradesh Congress had already sent a report to the party high command saying that an alliance with the Trinamool Congress would spell disaster for the party.
In Delhi on the other hand Trinamool Congress general secretary Mukul Roy today said that the party would contest all the 42 seats in West Bengal. There was a section of the Congress who were of the opinion that if an alliance was made with TMC, Congress would be able to retain all the 6 seats it won in 2009 but if that does not happen the party could get only one or two seats.
But the state party unit reasoned that for that short-term gain if the high command pushed for an alliance, the party would just be gobbled up by the Trinamool Congress.