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Bengal Congress chief writes to Rahul Gandhi, urges him to take call on seat-sharing with Left

News Agencies | Updated on: 5 March 2019, 15:54 IST

chief Somen Mitra Tuesday wrote a letter to party president Rahul Gandhi, underlining the need for "seat-sharing or alliance" with the CPI(M) to "stop the march of BJP in the state and dethrone the TMC in 2021 assembly polls".

According to sources in the state Congress, Mitra also mentioned about the "aspirations of party workers and leaders" to contest the 2019 polls from two seats - Raiganj and Murshidabad. These two seats have been the bone of contention in the seat-sharing talks with the Left for the upcoming parliamentary elections.

"I have written a letter to Rahulji with my assessment. Now it is for our party president and the AICC to take a call on the matter. I can't disclose anything further," Mitra told PTI.

The development comes a day after the CPI(M) central committee, in a move to untangle the formula of seat-sharing between the two political blocs to consolidate anti-BJP and anti-TMC votes, proposed "no mutual contest" for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in six seats currently held by the Congress and the Left Front in West Bengal.

The state Congress leadership on Monday, reacting to the development had said there can be no compromise on its demand for the two parliamentary seats - Raiganj and Murshidabad, which are known as Congress strongholds.

The Congress leadership had also said, if needed it is ready to fight the polls alone in case the Left Front does not leave these two parliamentary seats - which were won by the CPI(M) in 2014.

These two constituencies were earlier known as traditional Congress bastions. In the letter, Mitra gave details and statistics of the vote percentage and the number of votes that different parties had received in the 2014 polls, and how the BJP has increased its vote share in those two seats in several by-elections and in the 2016 assembly polls.

"Somen Mitra has urged the party high command to take the next step and talk to the Left leadership in Delhi to solve the impasse as the main objective is to defeat BJP at the Centre and the TMC in the state. "Now the ball is in the court of high command. Let's see what happens next," a senior Congress leader privy to the developments said.

While the Congress had bagged four seats in the state in the 2014 general elections, the CPI(M) had won only Raiganj and Murshidabad seats. While Uttar Dinajpur's Raiganj has been a pocketborough of Congress stalwart Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi, Murshidabad's politics has been dominated by the party's firebrand leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury.

While Raiganj is represented by CPI (M)'s Mohammad Salim at present, Badaruddoza Khan represents Murshidabad. Though the Congress is yet to take a decision on the CPI(M)'s proposal, a senior leader privy to the seat-sharing discussions with the CPI(M) had said on Monday that the party will not compromise on the two constituencies -- Raiganj and Murshidabad.

"There are two prevailing views in the party. One view is we fight alone in Bengal as it is the Lok Sabha elections where the fight is between the Congress and the BJP and the second view is that we share seats with the CPI(M). But there will be no compromise on our demand for Raiganj and Murshidabad seats," the Congress leader had said.

"Raiganj and Murshidabad have long been a stronghold of the Congress. We lost these seats by a very small margin in 2014 polls due to a four-cornered contest. But this time we are confident of winning those two seats," the Congress leader had said.

The two parties had a similar tactical understanding in the 2016 assembly polls but it failed to have an impact as TMC won 211 seats in 294-member state assembly. In last three years, the BJP has outsmarted the Congress and the CPI(M) to become the main challenger to the TMC in Bengal.


First published: 5 March 2019, 15:54 IST