The two parties have decided to ditch the TMC in the state.



New Delhi: Amidst much speculation of a “grand alliance” between the Congress, the CPM and the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) in West Bengal to take on the BJP, both the CPM and the Congress decided to ditch the TMC and a formal alliance between the CPM and the Congress was announced earlier this week.

The Congress and the CPM have decided to begin this alliance by fighting the 25 November bypolls, which will be held in three Assembly seats in West Bengal, together and have come to a seat-sharing arrangement. The CPM will be contesting on one seat, Karimpur, while the Congress will be contesting from the remaining two seats— Kaliaganj and Khargpur Sadar.

The Kaliaganj seat fell vacant after the demise of Congress MLA Parmatha Nath Roy, while the Karimpur seat was vacated by TMC MLA Mohua Mitra after she won the Lok Sabha elections from Krishnanagar, and the Kharagpur seat was vacated by BJP MLA Dilip Ghosh after he won from the Kharagpur Lok Sabha seat in the polls held earlier this year. 

The speculation over a “grand alliance” in Bengal was triggered by senior Bengal Congress leader and MLA from Champdani (Hooghly) Abdul Mannan after he recently wrote a letter to Congress national president Sonia Gandhi, over having a “tactical” understanding with the TMC during the Assembly bypolls in Bengal.

In his letter to Sonia Gandhi, he had written, “I would like to inform you further that at this moment, our organisational capacity is very poor at Kharagpur due to defection of a large number of Congress workers…Therefore, in this situation, I would suggest that to prevent the BJP, we should support TMC candidate at Kharagpur Sadar Assembly seats.”

In the letter, Mannan had also written that he has already had talks with the Left Front parties and their leaders who had decided to support each other.

The letter reads, “I would like to inform you that I had discussed primarily with the Left Front leadership regarding Kaliaganj seat and the Left Front leadership agreed to support Congress candidate at Kaliaganj to prevent BJP. And in Karimpur seat, where the Left Front is much stronger than us, we would support the Left Front candidate to prevent the BJP.”

However, this letter has caused some rift within the Bengal Congress and the West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee (WBPCC) has officially distanced itself from the letter and termed it as “Mannan’s personal opinion”.

Soumen Mitra, president of the WBPCC, told The Sunday Guardian: “The Congress has stitched an alliance with the CPM and the seat-sharing has already been finalised on Wednesday. There is no question of an alliance with the TMC in Bengal. Abdul Mannan may have written a letter to Soniaji for supporting TMC candidate in Kharagpur Sadar, but that is entirely his personal opinion and the party has nothing to do with it.”

“The alliance between the CPM and Congress in Bengal has been formed only after the green light was given from Delhi; therefore, I don’t think that there is anything left to discuss over Mannan’s call for alliance with the TMC,” Mitra said.

However, Abdul Mannan told The Sunday Guardian that he had written this letter to Sonia Gandhi to express his views on Bengal and that as an individual, he has the right to share his views with the party high command.

He said, “I have the right to express my opinion; I have been in the party for 50 years, so even I know politics. My views may not be acceptable to everyone in the party, but I have the right. It is up to the party high command to see merit in the views and decide. I had also written in the letter that whatever decision Soniaji takes, I will follow that.”

Differences over the TMC-Congress alliance have been there for a very long time. Even during the Lok Sabha polls, one section of Congress workers was in favour of aligning with the TMC, while the other favoured a CPM-Congress alliance. However, no such alliance took place before the Lok Sabha polls and last minute talks between Congress and CPM failed over disagreement on the two seats of Raiganj and Murshidabad seats.

However, the CPM and Congress fought in an alliance in the 2016 Assembly elections and bagged only 76 seats, while the TMC won 211 seats out of the 294 Assembly seats in Bengal.

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