Bengal: Seat sharing arrangement hits roadblock

These leaders belong to three major parties of Left Front — Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP), All India Forward Bloc (AIFB) and Communist Party of India (CPI).

Written by Arshad Ali | Kolkata | Updated: March 18, 2016 12:15 pm

THE PROPOSED electoral understanding between Left Front and Congress met its first major hurdle on Tuesday with leaders of Left parties expressing reservation about the seat sharing arrangement.

These leaders belong to three major parties of Left Front — Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP), All India Forward Bloc (AIFB) and Communist Party of India (CPI).

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RSP, which usually contests 23 seats, had won seven in the 2011 Assembly polls. For the sake of the tie-up with Congress, it is ready to give up four seats. “We are ready to give up Behrampore, Beldanga and Rejinagar in Murshidabad district and Kaliganj in Nadia…
but Congress today has

announced that it will contest several seats where we wish to put up candidates. If this happens and Congress remains adamant, I don’t think there will be an alliance in the first place,” said senior RSP leader Kshiti Goswami.

On Monday, Left Front Chairman Biman Bose had said an “understanding” has been reached with the Congress to jointly contest against the ruling Trinamool Congress.

Announcing the names of 116 candidates out of a total 294 seats, Bose had said that they “have welcomed an understanding with Congress to remove TMC” from the state but made it clear that “front,alliance and understanding are not the same thing.”

Asked about Bose’s stand, Goswami said: “The CPM has to follow its party line. It is not possible to embrace Congress leaders openly on a common platform. It will irk many party workers. So, keeping a certain distance is inevitable.”

Forward Bloc MLA Ali Imran alias Victor said the process to enter into a tie-up has begun late.

The party had contested in 34 seats in the last Assembly polls and won 12.

“Among the seats we had contested, Congress had won six. Now, they want to contest on all the six seats, which is out of question. At most, we may leave four seats. These need negotiation and there is hardly any time left. The talks should have begun at least a month ago,” he claimed.

Imran added that the Congress high command is yet to give a green signal to the electoral understanding. “While state Congress leaders had been speaking about a tie-up, its central leadership has not made its stand clear. This is why Bose is against sharing platform with the Congress,” he said.

The CPI, meanwhile, had pitched candidates for 14 seats in the 2011 polls and won two. Though sources said the party would have to give up three seats to the Congress this time, state party secretary Probodh Panda said nothing has been finalised yet.

“The issue is common… to oust Trinamool from the state… For this, sacrificing seats is essential. But as Bose had said, there is no question of platform sharing with Congress because there is a huge difference in the ideologies of the two parties. Again, the number of seats which we will have to sacrifice is yet to be decided,” Panda added.