Once again keeping the door open for seat sharing with the Congress, the Left Front on Tuesday announced its candidates for 38 seats in West Bengal, barring four seats won by the Congress in 2014. Left Front chairman Biman Bose gave the Congress “24 hours” to come out with a “positive response” on seat sharing and informed that their list of candidates is subject to change depending on Congress response.
“Yesterday (Monday) the Congress unilaterally announced their candidates in 11 seats, including Raiganj and Murshidabad, won by CPM candidates last time. Initially, six seats won by CPM and Congress were out of discussion. As they announced their candidates, we had to publish our full list of candidates. However, it is not that everything is lost. We are not announcing our candidates in four seats won by Congress last time. This is a gesture for a positive response from Congress. If they don’t respond accordingly, we will look for other options,” said Bose.
He also said the Left Front will consider changing their candidate list if the Congress responds positively. “If they respond to our appeal to maximise anti-BJP and anti-TMC votes, we are ready to change our list. There could be some changes in the list we announced today (Tuesday). But if we have to change something, then we have to do it in a hurry. In this juncture, we can’t wait for long. We will wait till 4.30 pm tomorrow (Wednesday). The Congress has 24 hours to respond. There is possibility of a dialogue to solve this. This shows how earnest we are to maximise the anti-BJP and anti-TMC votes,” he added.
In 2014, Congress won four seats from West Bengal — Baharampur, Jangipur, Maldaha Uttar and Maldaha Dakshin. The Left Front won two seats — Raiganj and Murshidabad.
However, Raiganj and Murshidabad Lok Sabha seats became a bone of contention in the seat sharing process as the Congress wanted to field its candidates from there. The CPM had said there should not be any mutual contest in these six seats held by the Congress and the Left Front. Amid discussions, the Left Front last week announced its list of candidates for 25 seats without consultation with Congress. Irked by the move, the Congress decided to go it alone in West Bengal and called off its talks with the Left. On Monday, the Congress announced candidates in 11 seats, including Raiganj and Murshidabad.
Responding to the appeal by the Left Front, West Bengal Pradesh Congress president Somen Mitra, however, rejected their proposal and said they “do not need any charity”. “We couldn’t continue talks with them as they were dictating terms to accept the candidate of their choice. We clearly said that we will contest in all 42 seats in West Bengal. We do not need their charity and there is no need to think that the Congress is weak here. We don’t need 24 hours to send them a response. We are saying it now that we are not accepting their proposal. Our party president Rahul Gandhi has asked us not to compromise our dignity even if we win only one seat from here,” Mitra told The Indian Express.