Now, Cong-Left spar over Purulia LS seat

Now, Cong-Left spar over Purulia LS seat
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Kolkata: Another roadblock has cropped up in the seat sharing talks between the Left Front and the Congress in West Bengal.

Earlier, both Congress and the Left Front (LF) wanted to contest from the Raiganj and Murshidabad constituencies.

The CPM contended that it cannot part with these sitting seats, while the Congress claimed these constituencies were the party's strong holds.

The CPM then proposed a no mutual contest formula to the Congress. The idea is to not put up candidates in six sitting seats – four of the Congress and two of the CPM by both parties.

Lok Sabha Elections 2019 | West Bengal

Now, the parties are sparring over the Purulia Lok Sabha seat.

A senior Congress leader hinted that the party is keen to contest from Purulia and the CPM should desist from putting up its candidate.

To facilitate talks on the issue, the LF decided to keep on hold its earlier decision to declare candidates.

"Discussions are on. Nothing has been finalised yet. But we are hopeful that the talks will be fruitful," said Congress MP and former Pradesh Congress Committee president Pradip Bhattacharya.

The earlier deadlock was resolved after Congress President Rahul Gandhi persuaded the party state leadership to leave the Raiganj and Murshidabad seats to the CPM.

A section of the Bengal unit of the Congress is of the view that Rahul would intervene to solve the impasse over the Purulia seat also.

As per the no-contest policy mooted by the CPM, the LF would not be in fray in Baharampur, Jangipur, North Malda and South Malda constituencies. The Congress had won these seats in 2014.

However, the Purulia issue has a different dimension.

Deepa Dasmunsi
Deepa Dasmunsi

LF partner All India Forward Bloc (AIFB), a party rooted in anti-Congressism, contests the seat normally. It has refused entertain any talk of leaving the seat to the Congress.

"We will contest from Purulia. We are not bothered with what the AIFB says. It will be absolutely ok for us if the CPM is on the same page with us," said a senior Congress leader from Bengal.

In such a scenario, the Congress is hopeful that CPM supporters would favour its candidate over the AIFB.

CPM state secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra and party's state secretariat member Rabin Deb went to Bhattacharya's residence to sort out the issue. Congress leader Somen Mitra had also taken part in the talks held earlier.

On Wednesday, the LF partners held detailed discussions on the issue.

“The Congress is keen on fighting 17 seats, leaving 25 to the LF. But we have our compulsions. LF partners RSP, AIFB and CPI want to contest three seats each. We also intend to put up an independent candidate in Darjeeling. A couple of other parties have also sought seats,” a CPM leader said.

The CPM wants to accommodate all of these parties and is hoping that the Congress leadership would settle for 13-15 seats.

There is also talk that Congress leader Deepa Dasmunsi, who is peeved over the party's decision not to put up a candidate in Raiganj against the CPM, may be asked to fight from Malda North.

Bhattacharya has denied such a move.

"I don't know of any such discussions," said Bhattachharya.

However, speculation is also rife that Deepa Dasmunsi may switch over to the saffron camp.

A section of the Congress believes that if she contests from the seat, she can win.

"Even if she contents as a BJP candidate from the Raiganj seat, she will not only get BJP votes but can also get a good share of votes from Congress,” a party leader said.

In spite of meeting BJP Bengal observer Arvind Menon and senior leader Mukul Roy over dinner at Menon's residence, she didn't join the saffron camp.

“Our national president will field her in some seat," Congress sources said.

However, political observers feel that if both Congress and the Left field candidates in Purulia, the BJP may win.

After local body polls and the violence unleashed by Trinamool, the mood in the constituency is against the ruling party and veering towards the BJP.

A common Cong-Left candidate may be able to wrest the Basirhat constituency from the Trinamool, according to some observers.

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