No end to impasse over crucial seats of Raiganj and Murshidabad .


New Delhi: A formal alliance between the CPM and Congress in West Bengal for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections is unlikely, as the impasse over the two crucial Parliamentary seats of Raiganj and Murshidabad is likely to continue, with both parties not willing to give up.

The CPM has already announced the names of its two candidates from Raiganj and Murshidabad. The sitting MPs—Md Salim and Badruddoza Khan — will be contesting from Raiganj and Murshidabad respectively.

Senior CPM leader Dr Fuad Halim told The Sunday Guardian, “In West Bengal, there are six such seats where either the CPM or the Congress is very strong and we have said that we will not oppose each other in these seats. We have already said that in the four seats where the
Congress had won last time in 2014, we will not field any candidate and therefore we have requested them not to field any
candidate in the two seats (Raiganj and Murshidabad) where we won last time. Now the ball is in their court. Only after they take a decision on these two seats, a further decision would be taken on all other seats.”

Other than this, the CPM has also said that the party will contest in all other seats in West Bengal where the party is believed to have a stronghold. However, the Congress leadership is unwilling to concede this demand of the CPM.

Senior Congress leader and Rajya Sabha member Pradip Bhattacharya told this newspaper, “If the CPM is not willing to leave Raiganj and Murshidabad, then let these two seats be open for contest for all parties and we can have an alliance for all the other seats.”

The Bengal Congress leadership has also met the party’s national president Rahul Gandhi in Delhi earlier this week and has communicated this to him. Sources in the party have also said that the Bengal unit of the Congress has also made it clear to Rahul Gandhi that the party in Bengal would not go for any alliance with the Trinamool Congress in the state.

The CPM had won both the Raiganj and Murshidabad seats in 2014 Lok Sabha elections and is, therefore, not willing to give up these two seats to the Congress, which is demanding that these two seats be given to them as they believe that the CPM vote bank in these two seats has now shifted either to the TMC or the BJP and, therefore, the CPM would have only a slim chance of winning from here in 2019.

The Raiganj and Murshidabad seats are also believed to be a stronghold of the Congress. Raiganj in Uttar Dinajpur had been a bastion of former Union Minister Priyanranjan Dasmunshi and the Congress had won this seat in 11 of the total 16 general elections. This seat was later won by his wife Deepa Dasmunshi in 2009 after her husband slipped into a coma. However, in 2014, CPM’s Md Salim had won this seat with a narrow margin of just 1,634 votes.

For the Murshidabad seat, CPM’s Badruddoza Khan had defeated the Congress candidate with over 18,000 votes in 2014 and, therefore, the party wants to retain both the Raiganj and Murshidabad seats.

In 2014, the Congress had won four seats from the state—Jangipur, Behrampore, Malda North and
Malda South—and the CPM is willing to leave these four seats to the Congress uncontested.

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