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CPI(M), Congress Poll Pact in Bengal Falls Apart Over 2 Seats as Left Announces Candidates

The Left had been very firm that they would not vacate the Raiganj and Murshidabad seats, while the Congress argued that the two were traditional Congress bastions and the party lost them by narrow margins in 2014.

Sujit Nath | News18.com

Updated:March 8, 2019, 9:53 PM IST
CPI(M), Congress Poll Pact in Bengal Falls Apart Over 2 Seats as Left Announces Candidates
File photo of CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury and Congress president Rahul Gandhi.

Kolkata: The Congress and the CPI(M) have failed to forge a seat sharing understanding in West Bengal for the Lok Sabha elections as Left front chairman Biman Basu on Friday announced the names of candidates for Raigunj and Murshidabad seats.

The two constituencies, coveted by both parties as they felt they had a chance of winning, had been the bone of contention. The two sides had held several rounds of talks but were unable to come to a resolution.

From 2004 to 2014, Congress’ Abdul Mannan Hossain had represented Murshidabad seat, while first Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi and later his wife Deepa Dasmunsi represented the Raiganj seat from 1999 to 2014.

Both seats are currently represented by CPI(M), the only two won by the party in the previous election. The Left had been very firm that they would not vacate the seats in favour of Congress. The Congress argued that the two places are traditional Congress bastions and the party lost the two seats in 2014 polls by narrow margins.

On Friday, Basu announced at a press conference that the CPI (M) has decided to field sitting MPs Mohammad Salim and Badaruddoza Khan from Raiganj and Murshidabad respectively.

“We will not field candidates in the four seats where Congress want to field their candidates. But if the Congress will field their candidates in Raiganj and Murshidabad, then we will also field our candidates there,” he said.

West Bengal Congress president Somendra Nath Mitra said if the CPI(M)’s decision is true, then the seat sharing understanding with them is over. “We will also field our candidates in Raiganj and Murshidabad,” he asserted.

The Left’s announcement has come a day after Congress chief Rahul Gandhi assured Mitra that he would talk to CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury to resolve the impasse.

Surjya Kanta Mishra, politburo member and CPI (M)’s West Bengal secretary, said the party never had and never will have any alliance with the Congress.

“We never had any alliance with Congress. This time also it’s just a seat sharing arrangement to avoid clash and nothing else. In 2016 Assembly Election, we had the same understanding,” he said.

“There should not be any confusion over this. Out of six seats, we won in two seats while Congress in 4 seats. So, this time we want to contest in those seats (Raigunj and Murshidabad) where the sitting MP is from CPI (M). This is made clear by our state and central committee members,” he added.

Raiganj MP Mohammad Salim said there was no logic in the Congress’s demand. “In 2016, we left Kaliaganj, Goalpokhar and Islampur seats in North Dinajpur to Congress to avoid clash. They should also think logically,” he said.

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