Hinting at an unofficial alliance between his party and the CPM in the upcoming Lok Sabha and Assembly by-polls in West Bengal, state Congress chief Adhir Chowdhury on Monday said his party was yet to decide whether to contest the polls, but would ensure that the division of the anti-TMC and anti-BJP votes would not happen.
“We are yet to decide whether to contest the polls. Let the dates be announced, but we have not finalised anything yet. We will ensure that the TMC and the BJP do not get the benefit of division of opposition votes,” he told reporters.
By-elections will be held in the Cooch Behar and Tamluk Lok Sabha seats and in the Monteswar Assembly constituency. At Cooch Behar, the by-poll was necessitated by the death of TMC MP Renuka Sinha. The by-poll to the Tamluk Lok Sabha seat was necessitated by TMC MP Suvendu Adhikari’s win from the Nandigram Assembly seat. Adhikari had resigned as an MP before he joined the state Assembly. The by-poll in the Monteswar Assembly seat was occasioned by the death of MLA Sajal Panja.
Last week, Left Front chairman Biman Bose had said that CPM’s ally Forward Bloc would field a candidate in the Cooch Behar Lok Sabha seat and that CPM would field its candidates in Tamluk Lok Sabha seat and Monteswar Assembly constituency. He had also made it clear that there had been no discussion about an alliance with the Congress and the Left Front would contest “on its own”.
According to Congress sources, the party leadership is against contesting the polls as it would help the TMC win the seats by ensuring a division of votes. Commenting on Chowdhury’s statement, a senior CPM leader said, “We welcome it. It is not possible to forge an official alliance, so if the Congress decides to back out, it will help us.”
The CPM-led Left Front had forged an alliance with the Congress in the last state Assembly polls. The decision to forge an alliance with ideologically opposite Congress had raked up an inner-party debate within the CPM. Later, it was decided that the party would not go for an official alliance with the Congress but would continue to organise agitations and protest rallies together against the TMC and the BJP.
Meanwhile, Chowdhury accused the ruling TMC of “trying to destroy the democratic system” in the state by “poaching on opposition MLAs”.
“The TMC has let loose a fascist rule in the state. They are poaching on opposition MLAs by either using money power or muscle power. I challenge them that if they have guts, they should win these municipalities and Assembly seats in elections,” he said.
Accusing the TMC of “engineering” the recent mass defections with the help of police and administration, he said, “They (Congress leaders) are being forced to do so under intimidation and coercion. Of course, there are elements who are doing it for their personal gains.” A letter has been submitted to the Speaker of the Assembly regarding the five MLAs who had allegedly defected to TMC. “Hopefully, the Speaker will be acting as Speaker of the Assembly and not of the ruling party. We will also be moving the Supreme Court against them,” Chowdhury said.
The state Congress chief addressed a meeting of party MLAs and requested them to reach out to the masses to ward off the perception that MLAs were leaving the party to join TMC. “I have told them that this perception needs to be fought back. If the TMC is an honest and transparent party, it should ask those MLAs who have joined it to resign and go for by-elections,” he said.
With PTI inputs
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