Cong ready to go alone in Bengal if CPI(M) doesn’t compromise on Raiganj, Murshidabad: Party leaders

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Kolkata, Mar 4 (PTI) The state Congress leadership Monday said it is ready to fight the upcoming Lok Sabha elections alone in West Bengal if the Left Front does not leave for it the two party-bastions — Raiganj and Murshidabad, after the CPI(M) proposed a “no mutual contest” for six seats in the state.
In a move to untangle the formula of seat sharing, an arrangement to consolidate anti-BJP votes and anti-Trinamool Congress votes, the CPI(M), after its Central Committee meeting in Delhi, proposed “no mutual contest” in six Lok Sabha seats, currently held by the two parties.
In 2014, the CPI(M) won Raiganj and Murshidabad in a four-cornered contest, though they have been traditional Congress strongholds. While Uttar Dinajpur’s Raiganj has been a pocket borough of Congress stalwart Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi, Murshidabad’s politics has been dominated by party’s firebrand leader Adhir Chowdhury.
There were several rounds of talks between the two blocs on seat sharing but Raiganj and Murshidabad have remained the bone of contention.
On the proposal by the CPI(M), the Congress has not made any decision officially, but a senior leader privy to the seat sharing discussions with CPI(M) told PTI that the party will not compromise on the two constituencies.
“There are two prevailing views in the party. One: we fight alone in Bengal as it is a Lok Sabha election where the fight is between the Congress and the BJP. Two: we share seats with the CPI(M). But there will be no compromise on our demand for Raiganj and Murshidabad seats,” the Congress leader said on condition of anonymity.
“Raiganj and Murshidabad have long been a stronghold of the Congress. We lost these seats with a very small margin in 2014 due to four cornered contest. But this time we are confident of winning those two seats,” he said.
Senior Congress leader and chairman of the state coordination committee Pradip Bhattacharya, who is part of the parleys with the Left, said, “It is a decision made by the CPI(M). We are yet to take a call on this matter. We are hopeful that by end of this week we will decide on this.”
Late in the night, the Congress issued a statement saying the party had started with “great hopes” the seat sharing discussions with the Left.
“But it needs to be mentioned that certain geographies have been historically Congress bastions and we find it difficult to ignore our supporters in such constituencies. As a result, we are yet to arrive at a conclusion. But we will discuss and submit our recommendation to the AICC and Congress president very soon,” it said.
In April 2018, at the Party Congress, the CPI(M)’s had said that defeating the BJP and its allies was the party’s main goal, but had also said this had to be achieved without a political alliance with the Congress. However, it had kept that option open in Bengal to maximize pooling of anti-BJP and anti-TMC votes.
The two parties had a similar tactical understanding in the 2016 assembly polls.
In the last general election in 2014, the CPI(M)-led Left Front won only the Raiganj and the Murshidabad seats.
The Congress had won four seats — Maldaha Uttar, Maldaha Dakshin, Baharampur and Jangipur.
Maldaha Uttar MP Mausam Noor joined the Trinamool Congress recently.

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