Cong-left poll talks in West Bengal: ‘Focus is on anti-BJP, anti-Trinamool votes’https://indianexpress.com/elections/cong-left-poll-talks-in-west-bengal-focus-is-on-anti-bjp-anti-trinamool-votes-5584914/

Cong-left poll talks in West Bengal: ‘Focus is on anti-BJP, anti-Trinamool votes’

Party sources said Congress state president Somen Mitra held talks with Robin Deb, while former state president Pradip Bhattacharya spoke to CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury.

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In 2014, the Congress won four seats in Malda Uttar, Malda Dakshin, Jangipur and Baharampur. The CPM won two Lok Sabha seats — Raigunj (Uttar Dinajpur) and Murshidabad. (File)

With informal talks between the state Congress and CPM in progress to reach an understanding for Lok Sabha polls, focus is on six seats the parties won in 2014. For the remaining 36 seats in the state, the parties will see who is in a better position to consolidate anti-BJP and anti-TMC votes.

In 2014, the Congress won four seats in Malda Uttar, Malda Dakshin, Jangipur and Baharampur. The CPM won two Lok Sabha seats — Raigunj (Uttar Dinajpur) and Murshidabad. However, Mausam Noor, who won the Malda seat as a Congress leader, recently joined the TMC.

Party sources said Congress state president Somen Mitra held talks with Robin Deb, while former state president Pradip Bhattacharya spoke to CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury. Both parties believe an understanding will be reached soon.

“Certain terms and conditions have to be adhered to for an electoral understanding,” said state Congress chief Somen Mitra.

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State Congress vice-president Om Prakash Mishra told The Indian Express, “We are confident that an understanding can be reached soon. It is a matter of 42 seats, especially six in Malda, Murshidabad and Uttar Dinajpur. In these six seats, we will see who is in a better position to win. One must remember that in the 2016 Assembly polls, we had a strike rate of 50 per cent whereas Left Front had a strike rate of 22 per cent. For the remaining seats, we are looking at traditional factors and who among us can consolidate anti-TMC, anti-BJP votes.”

Mishra also said the party was ready to accommodate priority seats to CPM. “We are ready to accommodate Left Front constituents. But they should desist from anti-Congress remarks,” he said.

CPM central committee member Robin Deb said, “In Delhi, we want a secular government. In Bengal, we are opposed to Trinamool Congress. We are ready for an understanding with like-minded parties. However, there will be no direct front.”

Congress sources said the party is willing to part with seats presently held by the CPM in Murshidabad and Uttar Dinajpur while retaining their four seats in Malda and Murshidabad.

Meanwhile, both BJP and TMC took a dig at the talks.

“Both parties have no base in Bengal. Congress has become a signboard here. It is irrelevant what they do. People of Bengal are with Mamata Banerjee and TMC will win all 42 seats,” said Kolkata Mayor Firhad Hakim.

“They are confused. In Delhi, they are holding hands with TMC and in Bengal, they are fighting against it,” said BJP state secretary Sayantan Ghosh.