Congress finalises alliance with Left for Bengal polls

Congress finalises alliance with Left for West Bengal polls

The West Bengal PCC had earlier recommended an alliance in favour of the Left parties

Congress' state unit chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury. Credit: PTI Photo

Congress on Thursday announced an alliance with the Left parties for the West Bengal assembly elections early next year, five years after a similar experiment had ended in a big failure.

West Bengal Congress chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury made the announcement of the alliance at a press conference.

“The Congress high command has formally approved the electoral alliance with the Left parties for the upcoming assembly elections in West Bengal,” Chowdhury said adding that the seat sharing discussions will take place between the state units of the alliance partners.

In 2016 assembly elections, the Congress and the Left parties had shied away from a formal alliance but had entered into a “strategic and tactical” understanding, and managed to win 71 seats in the 294-member assembly, while Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool posted a bigger victory than in 2011.

The Left parties had suffered a drubbing in the elections as they managed to win only 31 seats, while the Congress had emerged as the second largest party with 40 seats. The Trinamool had won 219 seats.

“There is nothing abnormal about it,” Chowdhury shot back when pointed out that Congress and Left were arch rivals in Kerala and are now friends in West Bengal.

Chowdhury launched a broadside against Trinamool supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, accusing her of opening the doors for the BJP in the state.

“It is because of Mamata Banerjee, the BJP got a foothold in West Bengal. She became a minister in the NDA government in 1999 and allowed the BJP to grow in the state,” Chowdhury said.

The Congress leader also accused Banerjee of “wiping off the opposition” in the state, which led to removal of the “secular buffer” that could have stopped the BJP from making inroads in West Bengal.

At the same time, Chowdhury termed the claims that the BJP could win 200 seats – a target set by Home Minister Amit Shah – in the assembly elections due in April-May as “wild imagination”