Talks between the Left and the Congress over sharing of seats for the 2021 West Bengal assembly elections will begin next week, their leaders said on Wednesday. The Left and the Congress have hit the roads together over the last one year on several issues, opposing the TMC government in the state and the BJP-led government at the Centre.
“Now, this is the time to take forward this alliance to its logical conclusion, and that is sharing of seats for the elections. The preliminary talks will begin next week," state Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury told PTI “The TMC and the BJP are trying to polarise the state on communal lines, and it is the duty of the Left and the Congress to provide a third alternative," he said. The two sides want to begin the talks as early October for the elections likely to be held in April-May next year to avoid last-minute “hiccups", he said.
“The talks are being started now so that there are no problems at the last moment. We struck a seat-sharing deal for the 2016 assembly elections but it was half-baked. During the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, we couldn’t stitch an alliance as the talks failed at the last moment," Chowdhury said. The Left-Congress tie-up bagged 76 seats in the 294- member assembly in 2016.
Senior Congress leader and MP Pradip Bhattacharya, who is the chairman of the newly-formed coordination committee, along with Chowdhury and the state’s Leader of Opposition Abdul Mannan will lead the talks with the Left parties, according to sources in Bidhan Bhawan. “The party’s district presidents and office-bearers of the state committee have been asked to submit reports about strengths and weakness of the organisation in their districts," a senior state Congress leader said.
Left Front chairman Biman Bose recently had a telephonic conversation with Chowdhury and had urged him to initiate the talks as early as possible, said sources in the CPI(M). In a tweet, Chowdhury urged Congress and Left Front leaders not to pay heed to “canards" being spread against the alliance.
“In the next election, the Left-Congress alliance will fight against the TMC and the BJP to form a government in Bengal. Attempts are being made to create confusion over the alliance in various ways. Friends in the Congress and the Left, please do not pay heed to any such propaganda," he said..