October 31, 2019 6:32:37 am
Ending weeks of speculation and hectic negotiations, the Left Front and Congress on Wednesday formally announced their alliance for upcoming Assembly bypolls in three seats of West Bengal.
At a joint press conference after attending a meeting at the RSP office in Kolkata, Left Front chairman Biman Bose and West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee (WBPCC) president Somen Mitra said that they will “jointly fight” against the contentious “National Register of Citizens (NRC), communal polarisation and lack of jobs across the state”.
Counting on the arithmetic
While the Congress will contest in two Assembly seats — Kaliaganj in North Dinajpur district and Kharagpur Sadar in West Midnapore district — the Left Front will contest in one seat — Karimpur seat in Nadia district.
“Our joint fight against the NRC, communal polarisation and lack of jobs will continue across the state. Today, we have decided that the Left Front will not contest in all three (Assembly) seats. We will contest only in one seat — Karimpur. We will announce our candidate tomorrow. Similarly, the Congress will announce their candidates for its two seats tomorrow after their internal meeting. There will be a joint campaign for the upcoming bypolls. Our primary aim is to defeat both the TMC and BJP in this bypoll,” Bose told mediapersons.
State Congress chief Mitra echoed Bose. “Today, we have put all the speculation to rest. Today, we have decided to enter into an electoral alliance with the Left Front for the Assembly bypolls. Our common aim is to defeat both the TMC and the BJP which are autocratic and anti-people in nature,” said Mitra.
For smooth campaigning, the two leaders also announced the formation of coordination committee for all the three Assembly seats that will go to polls on November 25.
Wednesday’s meeting was attended by CPM state secretary Surjyakanta Mishra, senior Congress leader Pradeep Bhattacharya and leaders of CPI, RSP and Forward Bloc.
However, there have been notes of dissidence within the Congress over the poll alliance with the Left Front, especially over the Kharagpur Sadar seat. Congress leader Abdul Mannan, who is the Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, recently wrote a letter to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, making a case for a tie-up with the Trinamool to defeat the BJP. “Our party is weak in Kharagpur town after the demise of our stalwart leader Gyan Singh Sohanpal. So to stop the BJP, we must extend our support to the TMC candidate there. This way we will find out whether the TMC is actually fighting to stop the BJP in West Bengal,” Mannan said. He, however, expressed support to the Congress-Left alliance in Kaliaganj and Karimpur Assembly seats.
In the 2016 Assembly election, Kaliaganj seat was won by Congress’s Pramatha Nath Ray. After his death in May, the seat fell vacant. BJP state chief Dilip Ghosh won the 2016 poll in Kharagpur Sadar, defeating seven-time Congress MLA Gyansingh Sohanpal. Ghosh’s elevation as MP this Lok Sabha elections necessitated the bypoll. TMC candidate Mahua Moitra won Karimganj in 2016. She too went on to win the Lok Sabha election this year, leaving the seat vacant.
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