Congress won't have truck with TMC in Lok Sabha polls

CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury and Left Front chairman Biman Bose during a Left Front rally at Brigade Parade Ground in Kolkata, Sunday, Feb. 03, 2019. (PTI Photo)

With the Congress indicating that it will not have any truck with the Trinamool Congress in West Bengal, the CPM is looking at the possibility of entering into an understanding with the Rahul Gandhi-led party in the state where the Left Front is in a shambles.

While there will be no formal alliance with the Congress, the CPM and its Left Front constituents are meeting in Kolkata on Sunday to discuss the contours of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

Sources said the Left parties are likely to first identify and decide on the seats they want to contest and then decide on which seat to be left for Congress.

They said in some seats they would prefer the Congress putting up a candidate against their candidate as such tactics would help in dividing the BJP votes.

The two-day CPM Polit Bureau meeting, which concluded on Saturday in the national capital, discussed the preparations for the general elections, where it debated on the state-wise reports on electoral tactics.

Sources said the West Bengal unit had suggested that it should have an electoral understanding with the Congress. Last week, CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury had a "chance meeting" with Congress president Rahul Gandhi in Parliament House and were believed to have discussed West Bengal politics.

While a decision will be taken only at the CPM Central Committee meeting to be held on March 3 and 4, West Bengal Congress chief Somen Mitra's statement that nobody in the state unit wants an alliance with Trinamool Congress and that it was final that there will no truck with the Mamata Banerjee-led party has been well received by a section in the CPM.

At a press conference after the Polit Bureau meeting, Yechury said the Left Front will contest in West Bengal and wherever it is not contesting, it will work towards defeating BJP and Trinamool Congress candidates.

When asked whether it would mean that there will be an understanding with the Congress, he said, "I have not said so." To a supplementary question on whether his remark meant that there will be no understanding, he said, "I have not said that also."

The assessment in the party is that the Left Front is struggling in the state and it needed tactical understanding with Congress and other secular parties. At present, CPM has two each seats from Bengal and Tripura and five from Kerala.

Sources said the CPM is upbeat over the success of the Brigade rally of February 3 and the moderate success of the national workers' strike. "But the problem is that we have to ensure that voters are able to reach the polling booths. Also, transferring Congress votes is a problem," a senior CPM leader said.

Any discussions with the Congress will start only after the first week of March, sources said.

For CPM, retaining the nine seats it holds in Lok Sabha is also a herculean task. With the party facing a difficult situation in Bengal and Tripura, the party leadership is looking at seats in Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Bihar.

While no parties have committed to it as of now, the CPM expects that the DMK will accept its demand for two seats in Tamil Nadu while the NCP and RJD may be ready to give one each seat in Maharashtra and Bihar, respectively.

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Congress won't have truck with TMC in Lok Sabha polls

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