THE Congress Tuesday announced the names of 75 constituencies from where it will contest the Assembly elections in West Bengal as per an initial “seat-sharing understanding” with the Left Front. The party, however, said that it was bargaining for at least 25 more seats.
“We have finalised 75 seats, which are free from any dispute or controversy. Discussions are on with the Left Front for more seats. We want to contest from 100-plus seats,” state Congress president Adhir Chowdhury said.
The names of candidates will be announced after receiving green signal from the party high command in Delhi, he said.
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The Left Front had a day ago announced names of candidates for 116 seats, out of the total 294, which would go to polls beginning April 4.
Meanwhile, reacting to Left Front chairman Biman Bose’s comment that they will not share the platform with the Congress for campaigning, Chowdhury said there should not be any “hide and seek” between the two parties.
“The Left has spelt it out. But both of us belong to the Opposition and the issues we are raising are identical. Whether we go for a join campaign or not, we should not play any hide and seek. People know what is happening. It is an electoral alliance induced by political compulsion,” Chowdhury said.
He said on such seats where Congress will not be fielding candidates, “We will have to tell the people to vote for the Left with which we have entered into an understanding”.
While announcing the Left Front’s list of candidates Monday, Bose had said they will ask people to vote for any anti-BJP, anti-TMC, secular, democratic party on seats where it is not contesting.
Meanwhile, Chowdhury said that out of the 116 seats announced by the Left, Congress will “discuss” about two – Hariharpara and Domkal in Murshidabad – “in a friendly fashion”.
Reacting to Trinamool Congress MP Derek O’Brien’s remarks that the Congress was like a watermelon, green from outside and red from inside, Chowdhury said, “We need not be sermonised by those who had not only formed an alliance with the communal party BJP, but had also been a bed fellow of the communal forces in India. They should know that charity begins at home. The TMC had thrice entered elections as an ally of the BJP and had also been a part of the coalition government even after the Babri Masjid demolition.”
Chowdhury, a known Mamata Banerjee baiter, had been vocal against her even during the Congress-Trinamool alliance and was keen to forge a seat-sharing arrangement with the LF to take on the ruling party.
“It is the wish of the lower level workers and supporters whose wishes have to be respected. If these people on both sides want, there may be joint campaign also,” he said.
Meanwhile, sources said Chowdhury has requested all senior leaders from state, including Pradeep Bhattacharya, Somen Mitra, Abdul Mannan, Manas Bhunia, Mohammed Sohrab and Om Prakash Mishra to contest the elections.