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Left Front Throws the Hat in Congress’s Ring Over Tie-up, Leaves 4 of Its Winning Seats Vacant

The Front had already announced the names of 25 candidates last week and Tuesday’s tally took the total number to 38 out of the 42 seats which are up for grabs in Bengal.

Sougata Mukhopadhyay | CNN-News18

Updated:March 19, 2019, 10:18 PM IST
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Left Front Throws the Hat in Congress’s Ring Over Tie-up, Leaves 4 of Its Winning Seats Vacant
Representative image of the CPI(M) logo. (Reuters)
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Kolkata: Keeping alive the hopes for a seat-sharing arrangement with the Congress, the Left Front in Bengal on Tuesday announced the names of 13 of the remaining 17 candidates for the upcoming polls. The four seats won by the Congress in 2014 have been kept vacant.

Announcing the names at CPI-M’s headquarters on Alimuddin Street in Kolkata, the Left Front chairman Biman Bose offered a 24-hour deadline to the Congress to “respond positively” to the gesture. He assured that the list can still be altered to mutual satisfaction if the Congress walked halfway.

The Front had already announced the names of 25 candidates last week and Tuesday’s tally took the total number to 38 out of the 42 seats which are up for grabs in Bengal.

The announcement came in wake of the Congress announcing the names on late Monday night of 11 candidates who would contest in the first three phases of polls in the state. The names included that of Deepa Das Munshi from the Raigunj seat and that of Abu Hena from Murshidabad.

The seat-sharing talks, perceptively to consolidate the anti-BJP and anti-Trinamool votes and avoid a four-cornered fight, were based on the premises that the two sides would not contest each other in seats which were won by either of them in 2014.

The Left has already announced the candidatures of Md. Salim and Md. Badrudozza Khan from the two seats, respectively.

The seats left vacant by the Left are Malda Uttar, Malda Dakshin, Jangipur and Baharampur. While Malda Dakshin was won by Abu Hasem Khan Chowdhury and Abhijeet Mukherjee grabbed the Jangipur seat, former state PCC president Adhir Rajnan Chowdhury is the sitting MP from Baharampur. All three received fresh tickets from the Congress to contest from their winning constituencies this time. Mausam Benazir Noor, the winner from Malda Uttar who has now crossed over to the Trinamool Congress, has been replaced by Isha Khan Chowdhury.

The Congress has also named Shankar Malakar as its candidate from Darjeeling in the midst of talks to field a neutral candidate acceptable to all the hill parties opposed to the Trinamool and BJP-backed faction of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha. The move, allegedly, forced the Left to field its own candidate Saman Pathak that frustrated plans for a joint opposition in the hills.

“We are expecting the Congress to respond positively to our gesture. But they must hurry because time is running out,” Biman Bose said, while setting a deadline till 4.30 pm on Wednesday.

The veteran leader, however, did not hide his disappointment at the so-called “unreasonable demands” from the Congress. “The Congress is demanding tickets in seats where their vote share has remained between 1.5 per cent and 5 per cent last time,” he alleged.

He maintained that besides the four winning seats, the Congress was in negotiation for seven additional seats in the state.

Asked why, despite sincere efforts, talks were on the verge of collapse, Bose said: “I have a feeling that people are moving around with money bags to rupture talks between the Left and Congress. And for the time being, it seems, they are succeeding.”

| Edited by: Sana Fazili
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