No mutual contest in sitting seats:CPI(M) to Cong in WB

The CPI(M) is looking to convince the Congress on an “electoral understanding” in West Bengal for the Lok Sabha election to defeat both the BJP and the Trinamool Congress (TMC) as it proposed a “no mutual contest” in six seats held by both the parties in the state.

In Odisha too, the party is seeking an "electoral understanding" with the Congress with a call too defeat BJP and ruling BJD in the simultaneous polls to the Assembly and Lok Sabha, as it seeks to contests the Bhubaneswar Lok Sabha seat only and "a few" Assembly seats.

The decision was taken by an "overwhelming majority" at the two-day CPI(M) Central Committee meeting here, which concluded on Monday, to decide on the electoral tactics for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections to ensure maximisation of the pooling of anti-BJP votes.

However, the formula of no mutual contest in six sitting seats – Congress' Berhampore, South Malda, North Malda and Jangipur as well as the CPI(M)'s Raiganj and Murshidabad – may not cut ice with Congress as it holds the Left party's two seats as its strongholds and wants to fight it.

Sources said senior MP and former Bengal Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhary met Congress chief Rahul Gandhi to impress him upon on not leaving these two seats to CPI(M) though they are not against a tie-up with the Left. The Bengal Congress leaders argue that they lost by a whisker in these two seats.

The announcement of the possible understanding with Congress comes three years after the party Central Committee had censured its West Bengal unit for entering into an electoral adjustment with Congress in 2016 Assembly election, saying it was "not in consonance" with its decision not to have" any electoral arrangement. Now, it has extended this arrangement to Odisha too.

"A triangular contest is better (against BJP) than a four-cornered battle (when TMC, BJP, Congress and the Left fight against each other) in Bengal," CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury told reporters when asked about what the CPI(M) stand would be if the Congress does not agree to its formula.

He said it was in accordance with the Central Committee's earlier decision to adopt suitable tactics to ensure the maximisation of the pooling of anti-BJP, anti-TMC votes that the party has proposed “no mutual contest in the present six sitting Lok Sabha seats, currently held by Congress and the Left Front”.

To decide on the rest of the 28 seats in Bengal, the Left Front will be meeting on March 28. With other Left Front partners will be fighting 8-10 seats and CPI(M) around 20, Congress will be left with 12-14 seats if an arrangement works out and it is to be seen whether Congress is ready to confine itself to these seats.

CPI(M) leaders are of the view that even if Congress contests against the Left in some seats, it would be beneficial for the CPI(M) and cited the examples of 2014's Murshidabad and Raiganj battles.

Detailing the CPI(M) electoral tactics, Yechury said that the party will contest one or two seats in states where there is a "direct contest" between BJP and Congress and campaign "generally for the defeat of the BJP.

This would mean that the Left party would be helping Congress in such states, to realise the goals set by the Hyderabad Party Congress to defeat the BJP by maximising the pooling of anti-BJP votes.

The party is also expected to seal a deal in Tamil Nadu for two seats in Tamil Nadu by Tuesday and discussions are on with RJD for one seat in Bihar (Ujiarpur) and with NCP in Maharashtra (Dindori or Palghar) besides fighting the usual number of over a dozen seats in Kerala and two in Tripura. 

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No mutual contest in sitting seats:CPI(M) to Cong in WB

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