The two arch rivals in politics for decades – the Congress and the Communists – have finally reached a workable “understanding” in sharing seats in the West Bengal state assembly polls to put up a combined fight against the ruling Trinamool Congress.
But for the moment, the two seem to have buried all their animosity as they say: “We are ready to do anything to oust this “despotic and autocratic” rule of the Trinamool Congress, and Mamata Banerjee.
After days and nights of consultations, the two sides have broadly agreed to field candidates in a manner that will make the fight one to one. In other words, the Opposition will try and limit the splitting of anti-TMC votes by giving just one candidate against the Trinamool Congress. In this formula, the Left Front is broadly contesting about 200 state assembly seats where the Congress will not give any candidate and the Congress is expected to fight about 80 seats where the Left will have no contest. The rest of the seats out of 294 – about 15 – are the ones where consensus could not be reached and both decided to have “friendly fights”.
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The electoral arithmetic has pushed the two sides into an understanding as the combined vote share of both the Congress and the Left works out to be way ahead of the Trinamool Congress in a large number of seats, particularly in about six North Bengal districts. Even in a couple of South Bengal districts the combined vote share of the Congress and the Left should be a cause for worry for the ruling TMC.
About eight districts of North Bengal would account for about 65 assembly seats where the Congress-CPM alliance should be at an advantage. There are a number of seats also in North and South 24-parganas and several other South Bengal districts where the Congress-CPM combined vote can be more than the Trinamool Congress.
But the ground chemistry is what has not been tested yet. This will be the first experiment in which the Left and Congress supporters are ideally expected to have a common choice. Depending on who is fighting what seat, a Congress voter may have to vote for a Communist contestant or a Left committed cadre may have to vote for a Congress man. This transfer of vote is what – the ground chemistry is and it would be difficult to predict a pattern. There lies the uncertainly of the electoral alliance.
The Trinamool Congress is worried but is confident that the “vote transfer” of Congress-CPM voters would not be as menacing as to cause any big upset. It might at best alter the outcome in about 20-25 seats, mostly in North Bengal. Didi has therefore, landed in North Bengal for a four-day whirlwind tour this week explaining why “an unethical and unprincipled” alliance should be defeated. She had also been reminding the old Congressmen about Communist massacre of Congress families in Bengal. The rest is to be seen in the ballot box.