While the alliance between the CPI(M) and Congress for the West Bengal Assembly election has been given the final nod by the Central Committee of the CPI(M) which met earlier this week, the task of seat sharing between the two parties has been left to the state committee of the CPI(M).
The Congress and CPI(M) are likely to begin their bargaining process on the number of seats to be contested by each party. The Congress, which contested the 2011 election in alliance with the ruling Trinamool Congress, fought on one-third of the total 294 seats in the Bengal Assembly, and won 42 seats, while the Left Front won 62 seats. Sources within the Congress said that they are likely to stick to their demand for one-third of the total seats, which effectively means Congress would demand around 100 seats for the Assembly elections. However, sources within the CPI(M) said that it is likely to offer only around 80-85 seats to the Congress. The CPI(M), along with all other Left parties, is likely to meet soon to decide on the seat-sharing arithmetic within the Left parties. A source within the CPI(M) also said: “The seat-sharing issues are decided by psephologists within the party, and after an arithmetic is worked out among all the Left parties, we can decide on the number of seats that CPI(M) and its other alliances will share.”
However, both the parties have refused to make any official comment on seat-sharing. However, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said in a press conference on Thursday, “The state committee will work out the nitty-gritties of this alliance and it is too premature to talk of seat sharing at this moment. As and when the state committee decides, it will be approved by the politburo.”
The Congress is likely to keep the seats around its strongholds in Murshidabad, Malda, Purulia, North Dinajpur and some parts of north Bengal. The CPI(M) has also seen growing support in north Bengal. A CPI(M) source said, “The traditional support base of the CPI(M) has been the rural voters, and the traditional Trinamool Congress support base mainly consists of voters from Kolkata and its adjoining areas. We have our bastions in rural Bengal. We are also gaining ground in north Bengal.”
The Left Front won the Mahakuma Parishad election in Siliguri in October last year. The Left Front won six out of the nine councils, and out of the 22 village panchayat bodies, the Left Front won 10, while the TMC won only four. The Left Front’s successful performance in the area gives the party an edge in north Bengal.