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Bengal Polls: Left-Congress Clinch Seat-Sharing Deal, Leave Room for New Entrants

The alliance leaders said the number of seats was not being made public to leave space for possible allies, such as Indian Secular Front, RJD and NCP.
Left-Congress seat sharing in West Bengal

Kolkata: The Left Front and Congress on Tuesday clinched an undisclosed seat-sharing deal, leaving room for new entrants in the alliance ahead of the Assembly elections in West Bengal, which are slated to be held in a few months from now.

Addressing a press conference at Muzzaffar Ahmed Bhawan here on Tuesday, Left Front chairman Biman Bose and state Congress president Adhir Ranjan Choudhury said the seat-sharing arrangement was not being made public, leaving room for late entrants, such as the Indian Secular Front (ISF), which had expressed willingness to fight the elections with the Left and Congress combine. ISF was floated recently by influential Muslim cleric in Hooghly district’s Furfura Sharif.

"In the upcoming 2021 Assembly elections, we will fight as an alliance of the Left Front, Congress and the Indian Secular Front," said Bose.

It is learnt that the Left-Congress alliance has also kept some seats for parties, such as the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), who have expressed  willingness to fight both  Trinamool Congress (TMC) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Left-Congress Call to Make Feb 28 Brigade Rally a Success

Both Bose and Choudhury also called upon the people of the state to make the February 28 Brigade Rally into the “largest rally in recent times” and workers of both parties to put in all efforts in that direction.

According to political observers, the seat-sharing deal with ISF, NCP and RJD will be clinched by February 28 and some of the candidates are likely to be present in the proposed Brigade Rally.

Among those from the Left Front who took part in Tuesday’s meeting are Communist Party of India (Marxist) state secretary Surjyakanta Mishra ,  polit bureau member Mohd  Salim ,Leader of Opposition Abdul Mannan, Congress MP Pradip Bhattacharya , Congress MLA Manoj Chakraborty  and Nepal Mahato.

At the press conference, Bose also condemned the police lathi-charge on the unarmed student and youth activists during the recent march to Nabanna (state secretariat) demanding jobs. They also condemned the “murder” of youth leader Moidul Islam Middhya who succumbed to injuries after the lathi-charge.

Later PCC president Choudhury told reporters that the entire discussion on seat-sharing was cordial and was held in an amicable, despite some “vested interests” whose “disruptive aims” had failed.  He said the interest being shown by various organisations to back the Left-Congress combine showed that “we have already earned the confidence of the people” of West Bengal.

Triangular Fight

Shrugging away the political narrative created by the media about a binary fight, Choudhury said the advent of the Left-Congress alliance will ensure a triangular fight across the state.

The seat adjustment exercise had received a shot-in-the arm on Sunday evening following bipartite discussions between CPI(M) and Congress.

Later, the Congress leadership has informed the press that there was “marked advancement” regarding seat sharing. Bose, too, said that an agreement had been reached in about 230 seats. However, in some seats inter-change may occur, he had said.

Discussions on the rest 64 seats were completed on Tuesday, but the details were not made public.

Indian Secular Front

Talking to reporters later on ISF, Bose said a letter on behalf of the ISF had been given to them by its chairman, Abbas Siddiqi, agreeing to fight against BJP and TMC. He said the issue of holding bipartite talks with ISF was also discussed on Tueday. While the Congress said that the Left Front should discuss it amongst themselves first, “we said that any understanding with ISF should be with both Congress and Left Front.”

“They have to talk both with Left and Congress,” he said, adding that it should not hinder the seat adjustment between Left and Congress and the new entity should be given seats on the basis of ground reality.

CPI(ML) Liberation

Answering to reporters’ query on CPI (ML) Liberation, Bose said “there was talk of seat sharing with CPI(ML) (Liberation ). However during the ongoing discussion between the Left and Congress, the party has unilaterally published a list of 12 candidates” without naming the seats they would contest.

It may be recalled that CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury had recently rued the fact that CPI(ML Liberation was going to fight the election with help from TMC, a move which, he argue, would “directly help BJP”, as the whole anti-incumbency factor would be channelised into BJP.

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