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Posted at: Feb 26, 2019, 11:00 AM; last updated: Feb 26, 2019, 11:00 AM (IST)

Left-Cong alliance in Bengal: RSP lowers its guard

Shubhadeep Choudhury
Tribune News Service
Kolkata, February 26

A meeting of the four constituents of West Bengal’s Left Front (LF) held here on Monday’s evening made marginal progress with regard to seat adjustment with the Congress for the coming Lok Sabha polls.

The meeting saw the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) – a LF constituent, which was a staunch opponent of any understanding with the Congress – lower its resistance and let the Congress contest from the Baharampur constituency.

Baharampur traditionally fell in RSP’s share when the Lok Sabha constituencies were earlier distributed among the four LF partners.

The seat is now represented in the Lok Sabha by Congress’s Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury whose nearest rival was TMC’s Indranil Sen in the last General Election.

RSP’s Promothes Mukherjee came third in 2014.

Alipurduar, Balurghat and Joynagar are the other constituencies that RSP has been traditionally contesting in West Bengal.

If the ongoing talk between LF leader CPI(M) and Congress regarding the seat adjustment takes formal shape, the Congress will not be putting up candidates in Alipurduar, Balurghat and Joynagar.

RSP national general secretary Kshiti Goswami, who participated in the meeting presided over by CPI(M) leader Biman Bose, however, made it clear that the “alliance” must be based on “principles”, which includes imposing restrictions on the Congress regarding partners it may like to choose in a post-election scenario.

“We are aware of the acute necessity of ousting the BJP from power. This led us to finally accept the CPI (M) proposal for electoral tie-up with the Congress,” Kshiti Goswami told this reporter.

The All India Forward Bloc (AIFB), also a constituent of the CPI (M)-led Left Front in West Bengal, however, continued to oppose any collaboration with the Congress party for the Lok Sabha polls.

Naren Chatterjee, general secretary of AIFB’s West Bengal unit, handed over to Biman Bose, who is also the Left Front convener, a list containing the names of three candidates for the three Lok Sabha constituencies that AIFB has been traditionally contesting in the state.

The seats –Purulia, Barasat and Cooch Behar – are all represented in the present the Lok Sabha by Trinamool Congress (TMC) candidates.

Asked if the Congress was interested in any of three seats that were traditionally allocated to AIFB by LF, Naren Chatterjee told The Tribune that he did not even want to know what the Congress wanted.

CPI(M) and Congress, bitter rivals in the past, first had a seat sharing arrangement in West Bengal during the 2016 Assembly elections.

The CPI(M) is trying to rope in its LF partners also join the arrangement for the coming LS polls.

West Bengal has a total of 42 seats. While AIFB and CPI traditionally contested from three seats each, RSP contested from four and CPI(M) from 32.

CPI(M), which won only two seats from West Bengal in 2014, may contest from 20 seats this time leaving the remaining seats of its share for the Congress to put up candidates. The CPI, too, is ready to make adjustments for collaboration with the Congress.


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