The Communist Party of India (Marxists) is keen on joining hands with the Congress ahead of the West Bengal Assembly elections this year, in the hope of dislodging Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress government. The Congress too wants to have an alliance with the CPM. The CPM’s official line, as voiced by senior leader Dr Fuad Halim to this newspaper, is, “We are still deliberating on this prospect.” However, sources within the CPM say that the party adopted a flexible stand during its recently concluded plenum in Kolkata and that joining hands with the Congress is a distinct possibility. But the sources added that the other parties comprising the Left Front, have reservations on this matter. However the CPM, since it is the largest constituent of the Left Front, expects to assuage the concerns of its smaller alliance partners.
Omprakash Mishra, general secretary of the WB Pradesh Congress Committee, who is also a member of the All India Congress Committee (AICC), in a letter dated 30 December 2015, has written to party president Sonia Gandhi that “if the Congress and Left Front votes are added, the lead of the combine would be 105 seats”. He has substantiated his proposal with a detailed arithmetic of the seat sharing formula for the elections. Mishra told this newspaper, “The Pradesh Congress Committee is in favour of a tie-up with the CPM. It is necessary to ouster the present government and it can only be done through this. I have also sent a proposal in this regard to the party high command explaining the details. We are hopeful that the CPM would consider our proposal and together we can fight and oust the ruling government.”
Adding weight to Omprakash Mishra’s proposal, senior Congress leader from Bengal, Pradip Bhattacharya said, “We are open to forming an alliance or any possibility of forging an alliance with all like-minded parties. The central leadership is deliberating on this. The mood of the people of Bengal would be taken into account and we would be soon out with a decision.” When asked about the possibility of a “grand alliance” like in Bihar, Bhattacharya said that “the two states are very different and here we are fighting the Trinamool and not the BJP, so a grand alliance is out of the question”.
The CPM state committee is likely to meet in the third week of January to finalise its stand on the matter. CPM’s Member of Parliament, Md Salim said, “We will discuss this in our state committee meeting, and forward our decision to the central Politburo. We are a democratic party and would take a collective decision on this. The collective will of the people will also be considered in taking such a decision and we are here to unite all secular forces to oust the present TMC government.”
The central Politburo has not yet taken any decision on this. Prakash Karat, Politburo member and former general secretary of the party told this newspaper, “Let the state committee meet and send their recommendation to the central Politburo. We can consider things only after that. It is not right to comment on anything now. We will take a decision that would favour the people and also keep in mind the will of the people on the ground.”
When asked, Trinamool Congress MP Saugata Roy said, “The TMC will fight the elections alone. We are very hopeful that we will come back to serve the people of Bengal for another term.”