West Bengal: Raiganj, Murshidabad seats pose hurdles for Left-Congress alliancehttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/kolkata/west-bengal-raiganj-murshidabad-seats-pose-hurdles-for-left-congress-alliance-5605837/

West Bengal: Raiganj, Murshidabad seats pose hurdles for Left-Congress alliance

Sources in the CPM said the party is willing to hold talks with the Congress if it stops asking for seats which were won by CPM in 2014 Lok Sabha seats.

West Bengal: Raiganj, Murshidabad seats pose hurdles for Left-Congress alliance
A discussion regarding the Left-Congress alliance was held at the two-day state committee meeting of CPM which began in Kolkata on Thursday. (Representational photo)

The Raiganj and Murshidabad Lok Sabha seats have come in the way of an electoral arrangement between the Left Front and Congress ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

Sources in the CPM said the party is willing to hold talks with the Congress if it stops asking for seats which were won by CPM in 2014 Lok Sabha seats.

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Will BJP benefit from Cong-Left understanding?

With CPM and Congress in talks for an electoral understanding in West Bengal for the Lok Sabha polls, it is to be seen how BJP manages to reap benefits from the division of votes. The saffron party had in the past benefited from a four-corner contest and emerged runner up to the TMC in most of the bypolls post 2016 West Bengal Assembly elections. However, in a three-corner contest in 2016, following an electoral understanding between the Left and Congress, the BJP had fared badly and came third in a large number of seats.

“The Congress wants to field its candidates from Raiganj and Murshidabad constituencies which were won by our candidates last time. We have categorically said that we want to retain the seats which were won by us last time. Similarly, we are not willing to field candidates from constituencies won by Congress last time. If they agree, we shall continue with the proposed alliance with them,” said a senior CPM leader on condition of anonymity.

A discussion regarding the Left-Congress alliance was held at the two-day state committee meeting of CPM which began in Kolkata on Thursday. In the meeting, it was discussed that the party will convince its ally RSP not to field candidate from Berhampore constituency which is a Congress bastion. “It was also discussed in the meeting that the CPM is willing to sacrifice more seats in places where the Congress has a stronghold but on the condition that they will not field candidates from Raiganj and Murshidabad,” the senior CPM leader added.

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In the last Lok Sabha elections, the CPM had fought from 32 seats out of the total 42 in the state and left 10 seats for its allies – CPI, RSP and Forward Bloc. With its allies unwilling to sacrifice their seats for Congress, the CPM is willing to let go of its seats to keep the alliance ball rolling.

In 2014, Congress had won four seats from the state – Berhampore, Jangipur, Malda North and Malda South. The Left Front had won two seats – Raiganj and Murshidabad. After sitting Congress MP Mausam Noor defected to TMC recently, the party is looking at other seats to compensate its tally.

“It is now clear that the Congress is unlikely to win the Malda North after Mausam Noor switched sides. The party now wants to win another seat to keep its tally intact. It is targeting Raiganj and Murshidabad as they had lost these two by a thin margin last time and will have a better chance to win them this time,” said a source in Congress.

In 2014, Congress’s Deepa Das Munshi had lost Raiganj seat to CPM’s Mohammad Salim by 1,634 votes. Similarly, Congress candidate Abdul Mannan Hossain had lost Murshidabad seat to CPM’s Badruddoza Khan by over 18,000 votes.

Sources said this time the Congress wants to contest from 18 out of 42 seats in the state. With the Left Front set to contest from more than 30 seats, there could be friendly fights between the two parties in some seats.

CPM state secretary Surjyakanta Mishra, however, said that they would work hard to bring together all the anti-BJP and anti-TMC votes. “We are ready to take every possible step to unite all anti-BJP and anti-TMC votes,” Mishra said during the meeting.