The Bengal unit of the Congress has already sent a proposal to the central leadership detailing the strategy that could be adopted in case of an alliance.
In a repeat of what was witnessed during the 2016 Assembly elections in West Bengal, the Congress and Left parties in the state are likely to again join hands, this time to fight the Lok Sabha elections, making it a three-cornered fight.
The Bengal unit of the Congress has already sent a proposal to the central leadership for an alliance between the Congress and Left parties, detailing the points and strategy that could be adopted in case an alliance is formulated. The Congress is also looking for a long-term relationship with the Left parties in Bengal that could be continued till the 2021 Assembly elections.
Om Prakash Mishra, General Secretary, West Bengal Congress, told The Sunday Guardian, “A broad based partnership between the Congress and the Left is imperative to restore democracy and strengthen social cohesion to defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Trinamool Congress in Bengal. The partnership would also help win a majority seats and pose as a strong democratic and secular Opposition bloc.”
The Bengal Congress, in its report, had put out a “21 Step” approach that could be adopted for the alliance.
The “21 Step” approach includes opening of central point offices, a dedicated website, social media pages, printing of pamphlets, creation of a volunteer base of 50,000 or more, provisions of 24-hour helplines, organisation of mass rallies with senior leaders of both the Congress and Left parties, joint press briefings, among other such programmes.
The report prepared by Mishra also provides details of how the discontinuation of the alliance or “jote” has hurt the parties electorally in Bengal.
The report says, “It was unprecedented that electoral understanding between two political parties who have traditionally fought each other…an electoral understanding could be reached in almost 94% of the Assembly seats…and to a large extent successful vote transfer could materialise. The ‘Jote’ could secure 39% votes and 77 seats, though there were a lot of misgivings, reservations, absence of common political-electoral strategy and programme and extreme resource crunch faced by both the parties.”
The report sent to the All India Congress Committee (AICC) in Delhi sometime in the last week of June also laid down reasons why a tie-up between the Congress-Left and the TMC was not possible.
The Sunday Guardian had already carried a report in its 10 June edition under the headline “Congress, CPM in Bengal not ready to join hands with TMC”, which detailed that a “united Opposition” against the BJP was unlikely in Bengal.
The Left parties are also not averse to the idea of forming an alliance with the Congress in the state. Senior Left leaders of the state have said that an understanding with the Congress could be worked out where all secular forces could come on one platform to take on the TMC and BJP in the state.
A senior CPM leader from the state said, “The people of Bengal want an alliance of secular and democratic parties. When in 2016, the Congress and Left fought together, a sense of hope and excitement was witnessed among the people. We could not get much in terms of seats, but we were able to keep the BJP at bay. Our vote percentage had also shown improvement. Ground level workers are also excited about an alliance or understanding with the Congress as this will also result in electoral gains for both the Congress and Left parties.”
The official stand of the CPM is, however, that a decision on an alliance or partnership would depend on the last party congress.
Dr Fuad Halim, senior CPM leader and spokesperson, told The Sunday Guardian, “A decision on such an alliance would be taken after a meeting with all senior leaders. We have not yet taken any decision. However, we want all secular forces and regional parties to come on the same page and take on the communal and undemocratic government both at the state level and the Centre.”
Shatarup Ghosh of the CPM also said, “The people of Bengal want an alliance with all secular political parties; we would weed out the authoritarian and undemocratic TMC government from the state.”