Bowing to the pressure from its West Bengal unit, the Congress Friday ruled out any alliance with the Trinamool Congress and announced to fight the upcoming Lok Sabha elections alone in the state. The approval to go solo came from Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
This was confirmed by West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, who met Sonia at her residence in Delhi. The meeting lasted about 40 minutes.
“She asked us whether we would be able to and whether we had the wherewithal to contest all the 42 seats. I told her point blank that if, at this juncture, an alliance was made with the Trinamool Congress, the Congress in Bengal will just wither away. We are happy that she agreed and gave approval to the party to go solo,” Chowdhury told The Indian Express from Delhi after the meeting.
He said that despite the projected gloomy picture, the party will do well.
Chowdhury also submitted a list of 17 candidates to the party high command. He will submit the names for the remaining seats in a day or too.
Back home in Kolkata, party leaders welcomed the move. “Sonia Gandhi is a great leader and she understands our politics well. Had there been an alliance we could have had a short-tern gain, but our party would have perished. By fighting alone, we could even do better than expected,” said Pradip Bhattacharya, former PCC chief.
The state Congress had earlier sent a report to the party high command saying that an alliance with the ruling Trinamool Congress would spell disaster for the party.
Meanwhile, in Delhi, Trinamool Congress general secretary Mukul Roy, too said that his party would contest all the 42 seats in Bengal.
“We contested the municipal and panchayat elections alone. At that time, we had neither aligned with the Congress, nor did we have any understanding with the communal BJP,” he said, adding, “we are happy being alone.”