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Lok Sabha seat-sharing talks: Congress mulls Meghalaya sacrifice to strike deal with TMC in Bengal

Congress is seeking a 'respectable' number of seats in an alliance and may settle for around five seats, sources said. Earlier, the state leaders had demanded at least nine seats but during a meeting with them, Rahul had asked them to be realistic and seek not more than half-a-dozen seats.
Last Updated 24 February 2024, 02:00 IST

New Delhi: Congress may sacrifice its claim on one of the two seats in Meghalaya to strike a deal with the Trinamool Congress in West Bengal for the Lok Sabha elections, as both the parties revived efforts to restart the once broken negotiations.

Trinamool and Congress had been on opposite poles over the former’s insistence on “take two seats or leave” in West Bengal. The relationship nosedived after Chief Minister and party supremo Mamata Banerjee unilaterally announced her party contesting all 42 seats while refusing to take part in Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra in the state.

While a section of Congress leaders had played down Mamata’s outbursts against the party, sources said backroom efforts were on to find a common ground. There has been some forward movement and the talks have revived to find an amicable solution though Trinamool has been insisting that Congress does not deserve more than two seats.

Congress is seeking a “respectable” number of seats in an alliance and may settle for around five seats, sources said. Earlier, the state leaders had demanded at least nine seats but during a meeting with them, Rahul had asked them to be realistic and seek not more than half-a-dozen seats.

Now, Trinamool has demanded that Congress leave the Tura seat in Meghalaya and two seats in Assam though it may settle for one. Sources said Trinamool's argument is that it had polled 28 per cent votes in Tura while Congress had got only 9 per cent and it has a better chance.

However, Congress state leaders say the Trinamool votes are actually those of Congress defectors. However, the seat negotiators are of the view that they could forgo their claim on Tura for a better settlement in West Bengal.

“If push comes to shove, we can forgo our claim on the Tura seat. Maybe, Trinamool may not also insist on Assam. We need to find a middle path and we are sure we will find one, like we did in the case of Uttar Pradesh,” a senior leader said.

Sources said the announcement on Delhi is also delayed on the discussions on the Bharuch seat, which the Congress has an “emotional connect” due to late Ahmed Patel’s links. AAP has claimed the seat and sources said Rahul too has asked party managers to speak to the former to leave the seat for Congress.

AAP and Congress have finalised the seat deals in Delhi (4 AAP - 3 Congress) as well as leaving one seat for AAP in Haryana. AAP has also agreed to leave Chandigarh for Congress.

In principle, Congress is willing to leave both Bharuch and Bhavnagar for AAP in Gujarat but a section argues that leaving Bharuch could send a wrong signal.

Congress sources said the alliance with AAP, which is a “package deal”, will soon be announced.

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(Published 24 February 2024, 02:00 IST)

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