With the CPM rebuffing the Congress’s offer to back Sitaram Yechury for the Rajya Sabha elections from West Bengal, the grand old party on Thursday decided to field sitting MP Pradeep Bhattacharya as its candidate. Sources in the Congress said the party has reached out the Trinamool Congress, which has offered its support to the Congress candidate.
The move will put the CPM in a fix as it announced on Wednesday that it want an “acceptable independent candidate” to be fielded by the opposition parties in West Bengal, failing which it would consider fielding a candidate. The Congress’s decision and the Trinamool Congress’s offer of support will deepen the tug of war in the CPM over the strategy for the Rajya Sabha elections.
The Bengal unit was seething over the CPM central committee’s decision to reject its proposal to field General Secretary Sitaram Yechury with Congress support. “Now we have managed to cement the Congress-Trinamool Congress relationship. We pushed the Congress into Trinamool arms… when it was willing to come with us,” a top CPM leader said.
Sources in the Congress said Trinamool has conveyed that it would support the Congress for the sixth seat, which is falling vacant if it fields Bhattacharya, who is retiring next month, or former Speaker Meira Kumar. Bhattacharya is a former PCC president. The Congress has 39 MLAs in the Assembly, which is not enough to get its candidate elected. In the 294-member House, a candidate needs 42 votes to win.
The Trinamool has fielded five candidates and has the numbers to get all of them elected. The tussle is for the sixth seat for which no party has the numbers. The Left bloc has 33 MLAs in the Assembly. If the Left does not field a candidate, all the six candidates would be elected unopposed. The last date for the filing of nominations is Friday.