A day after Congress leader Rahul Gandhi held an online meeting with the party’s Bengal president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and some other state leaders, sources said the party would begin seat-sharing talks with the Left Front after interim Congress president Sonia Gandhi gives the green signal.
Though the seat-sharing talks before the last Assembly polls, and the 2019 Lok Sabha elections — when the two sides failed to reach an agreement — were not smooth, the Congress reaped the benefits both the times in terms of seats won as it has a high concentration of voters in select constituencies in north Bengal.
This time around, both sides want to avoid “friendly fights”. A senior CPI(M) leader said, “We fought the 2016 elections together in almost all seats and we got more than 35% of total votes. But, without an alliance we got only around 14% votes in 2019. So, this time we are trying to forge an alliance in all 294 seats. For that, we may lose some seats but that will not bother us. In Bihar, all Left parties moved away from the demand to fight in as many seats as possible in the interest of the alliance. In West Bengal, we should have the same focus. Wherever one party is stronger, we should help them to win that seat.”
During informal discussions between the two sides, some Congress leaders pushed for projecting Adhir Chowdhury as the alliance’s face.
However, the Left dismissed the idea. and emphasised forging a movement together. According to Left Front chairperson Biman Bose, only a united movement can make the alliance a success.
At Friday’s meeting with Rahul Gandhi, the Pradesh Congress leaders unanimously argued for the alliance. The discussions to firm it up got delayed following the party’s electoral setback in Bihar earlier this month. The Congress high command took special note of the party’s depleting vote share in Bengal, which was down to 6.29 per cent in 2019, while the BJP’s was 40 per cent and the Trinamool Congress’ was 43 per cent.
The central leadership of the CPI(M), the main constituent of the Left Front, has already given its state unit the approval to firm up a seat-sharing agreement with the Congress.
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