WITH THE CPM rebuffing the Congress’ offer to back Sitaram Yechury for Rajya Sabha from the state , the party on Thursday decided to field sitting MP Pradeep Bhattacharya. Sources in Congress said the party has reached out to Trinamool Congress, which has offered support to Bhattacharya.
The move will put CPM in a fix, as on Wednesday, it had publicly declared that it wanted an “acceptable independent candidate” to be fielded by Opposition parties in the state, failing which it would consider fielding another. The Congress’ decision and Trinamool’s offer of support will deepen the tug of war in CPM over its strategy for the Rajya Sabha elections. “We have managed to cement Congress-TMC relationship. We have pushed Congress into TMC’s arms… when it was willing to come with us,” said a top CPM leader said.
Sources in Congress said that Trinamool will support the party for the sixth Rajya Sabha seat, which is falling vacant, if it fields Bhattacharya — who is retiring next month — or former Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar.
Bhattacharya is a former Bengal Congress president. The Congress has 39 MLAs in the state 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 already 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 has 33 MLAs in the Bengal Assembly. If it does not field a candidate, all the six candidates would be elected unopposed.
It is to be seen whether the Left fields a candidate or abstains from voting. The last date for the filing nominations is Friday.