CPM Approves Seat Sharing Formula with Congress in Bengal For LS Polls


Kolkata: Putting an end to a long-standing speculation, the Central Committee of the CPI (M) finally put its seal of approval on the wishes of the party’s state wing to forge a seat sharing arrangement with the Congress in West Bengal for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections to simultaneously take on the BJP and the Trinamool Congress.

The decision was taken despite the Congress’s perceptible key role in the so-called “Mahagatbandhan” of opposition parties in the run-up to the polls of which Trinamool Supremo Mamata Banerjee is a crucial part.

“In West Bengal, the Central Committee had earlier decided that the CPI(M) will adopt suitable tactics to ensure the maximization of the pooling of anti-BJP, anti-TMC votes. In accordance with this, the CPI (M) proposes no mutual contest in the present six sitting Lok Sabha seats, currently held by the Congress and the Left Front,” a statement from the party’s Central Committee, which is meeting in Delhi on 4-5 March, read.

“The Left Front is meeting on March 8 to finalise the other seats,” the statement added.

Of the 42 seats up for grabs in the state, in the 2014 general elections the CPI(M) managed to win just two seats from Bengal, that of Raigunj and Murshidabad, in a continual slide from its earlier tally of 15 seats in 2009. The Congress won four seats in 2014 – Berhampore, Jangipur, Malda Uttar and Malda Dakshin – which was two seats less than its previous tally. The ruling Trinamool Congress registered a thumping victory by bagging 34 out of those 42 seats. The BJP had to remain satisfied with two seats.

But things have drastically changed in the political environs of the state since then with the BJP firmly emerging as the principal challenger to Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress, relegating both the Congress and the Left to the periphery.

It was in this context that the CPI (M) state unit, reportedly, drew up a compromise formula of contesting in just 22 seats this time which included the two winning seats. It plans to leave 10 seats for the other Left Front partners and the remaining 10 for the Congress. Complications surfaced when Congress expressed its desire to field candidates in both Raigunj and Murshidabad leading to hectic negotiations between leaders of both parties.

Earlier, the Somen Mitra-led West Bengal Pradesh Congress camp had opposed in no uncertain terms before the party’s High Command any chances of a tie-up with the Trinamool and expressed their preference for a pre-poll understanding with the Left instead. The party’s bitter experience of violence and intimidation from the state’s ruling dispensation, especially at the level of grass roots rank and file, was cited as reason behind the objection. All opposition parties in the state had unanimously cried foul against the Trinamool Congress during the recently concluded Panchayat polls.



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