Ever since Congress and Left Front entered into a political understanding of sorts for the Assembly elections with the sole aim of “ousting” the ruling Trinamool Congress, grassroots workers on both sides have clamoured for senior leaders to “come out in the open” about the alliance.
Contrary to their demand, Left Front chairman Biman Bose rejected the idea of sharing stage with Congress leaders or holding a joint campaign, whereas Congress’s state president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury levelled allegations against Left allies of attempting to “foil” the tie-up by taking “bribes” from TMC to pitch their own candidates.
These incidents, however, have failed to mar the vigour of party workers and leaders/candidates, who have since taken upon themselves to project an understanding between the two parties that belies their chiefs’ “damaging” remarks.
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At several places, Left and Congress supporters have walked hand-in-hand, holding their party flags, putting up a “united” fight against the “tyranny of Mamata Banerjee-led government”.
“It is a fight to get rid of this tyrannical government and for that we can’t fight by hiding ourselves. We need to come out in the open and do whatever is needed to achieve this goal,” Forward Bloc leader Naren Chattopadhyay said Friday during a joint rally where he could be seen walking alongside Congress’s Abdul Mannan, the coalition candidate for Champdani seat (Hooghly). “There is no point playing hide and seek,” he remarked.
Mannan said the coalition was “inevitable”. “I have been talking about this unity for over two years now and had launched a forum ‘Save Democracy’ whose members are leaders from both the parties.”
In Siliguri, CPM replicated the model that won it the civic polls last year. Its candidate for the Assembly polls, Asok Bhattacharya held a press conference with Congress’ Darjeeling president Sankar Malakar Friday and proclaimed to keep this unity “intact”. “Our joint campaigning started some time ago and it will continue. We had fought in a united fashion before and prevented booth capturing. This time too, the intention remains the same,” Bhattacharya said.
Malakar added to that by saying that their respective candidates will be thronged by supporters of the other party when they file their nomination papers.
Salt Lake, too, bore a similar scene with Congress’s Arunava Ghosh being flanked by CPM supporters, leading whom was social activist and widow of former sports and transport minister Subhas Chakraborty. The Congress reciprocated the gesture by coming out in full numbers for Left Front’s Palash Das (Dum Dum) and Santosh Rana (Medinipore).
The most promising sight of this alliance, however, emerged from Hazra where Congress’s Deepa Dasmunsi was out seeking votes for herself and challenging TMC chief Mamata Banerjee (from Bhawanipore seat). She had by her side none other than CPM’s Mohammad Salim, the person who denied her a second term as an MP from Raigunj by defeating her in the 2014 elections.
Asked to comment, Salim said, “It was not a political campaign. It was an event organised by ICDS workers and I had been invited to speak. Incidentally, it is at the doorstep of Mamata Banerjee’s constituency who is being challenged by Deepa Dasmunsi.”
Significantly enough, both Congress and Left workers are wary of pitching separate candidates, which the two parties have done amid claims that those seats will see a “friendly contest”.
Workers believe such steps would “mar the objective” of an alliance. In Alipurduar, for instance, CPM leaders have announced support for Congress candidate Biswaranjan Sarkar but face resistance from their own Left ally, RSP, which has pitched its own candidate, Nirmal Das. “It is better to leave seats for that party where it feels it enjoys a stronghold. Here (in Alipurduar), the support is clearly for Sarkar,” CPM leader Mridul Sengupta said.
Sarkar, too, urged the Left ally to “understand the situation”. “Instead of being adamant, which will be counterproductive for both the parties, it (RSP) should withdraw its candidature,” he said. The RSP candidate’s argument, on the other hand, hinges on what the seniors have been playing all along. “There had been no such instruction from the party high-command to withdraw and therefore I will be continue to be the candidate,” he said.