The electoral alliance between the Congress and the Left parties for the upcoming assembly polls made noticeable progress on Thursday when the parties agreed to share 116 seats in addition to the 77 that they had won as allies in 2016. The West Bengal assembly has 294 seats.
The parties also announced that a rally will be jointly held at Kolkata’s historic Brigade Parade Ground on February 28. No other party in the fray has so far called a rally at the venue.
“Today we took another step forward in forming a strong alliance against the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Earlier, we had decided to share the 77 seats that the Congress and the Left parties won in 2016. Today we reached an agreement on 116 more seats. People of Bengal want to give a befitting reply to the ruling party as well as the BJP,” Bengal Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said after the talks.
Left Front chairman Biman Bose said, “The talks on seat sharing will continue, keeping in view the ground reality. We will jointly hold the rally at Brigade Parade Ground.”
Congress leaders said they will invite either Rahul Gandhi or his sister Priyanka to address the rally.
TMC Lok Sabha member and party spokesperson Saugata Roy, who had earlier urged the Left and the Congress to support the TMC, said, “These parties have lost a lot of strength but whatever gains they make will make the BJP suffer.”
Reacting to the Congress-Left seat sharing, BJP state vice-president Jay Prakash Majumdar said, “Both are spent forces in Bengal. The contest is between the TMC and the BJP.”
On December 24, the All India Congress Committee (AICC) formally approved a tie-up with the Left parties in Bengal.
West Bengal, along with Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam and Puducherry, will go to polls in March-April.
In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the Congress and the Left suffered badly while the BJP won 18 of the state’s 42 seats. The Left parties won none while the Congress tally came down from four to two. The CPI (M) central leadership did not give its approval to the Bengal unit’s move to share seats with the Congress for the Lok Sabha polls.
In October last year, the central committee of the CPI(M), the party’s highest decision-making body, approved the Bengal unit’s decision to have an electoral understanding with all secular parties, including the Congress.