Bengal Congress Responds to Left’s 24-Hour Deadline, Leaves 5 Lok Sabha Seats Vacant

Bengal Congress Responds to Left’s 24-Hour Deadline, Leaves 5 Lok Sabha Seats Vacant

Kolkata: The West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee on Wednesday said it would leave for the Left Front five Lok Sabha seats where the latter had a stronger base as the main aim was to defeat the ruling Trinamool Congress and a rising Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the state.

Extending an olive branch to the Congress, the Left Front on Tuesday said the two parties should come together to keep the Trinamool and BJP at bay and reconsider a seat-sharing pact.

Front chairman Biman Bose gave a 24-hour deadline to the Congress to respond to its request, while announcing the second list of 13 candidates and leaving aside four seats for the grand old party. The first list of Left candidates for 25 seats was released last week.

On Monday night, the state Congress unit had named candidates for 11 seats, including Murshidabad and Raiganj. The two seats have been a bone of contention between the Left and Congress.

Congress’ Deepa Dasmunsi will contest from Raiganj, while Abu Hena has been named as the Murshidabad candidate.

On March 8, the Left Front, too, announced the names of sitting MPs Mohammad Salim from Raigunj and Badaruddoza Khan from Murshidabad.

Congress leader Pradeep Bhattacharya said, “We are not giving any deadline, but we expect a positive reply within a day or two. We are leaving five seats for the Left Front. If it doesn’t agree to a seat-sharing pact, we will announce candidates for all 42 seats.”

The five seats that the Congress has kept aside for the Front are Tamluk, Asansol, Bolpur, Bishnupur and Diamond Harbour, while the Left has kept the Maldaha Uttar, Maldaha Dakshin, Jangipur and Baharampur seats vacant for the grand old party.

While each party has talked about keeping aside seats for the other, a solution on the two crucial seats of Murshidabad and Raiganj will be the main deciding factor to arrive at a seat-sharing arrangement.

On Sunday, state Congress president Somendra Nath Mitra had left for New Delhi to hold discussions with the Congress high command on the future of the pre-poll deal with the Left Front following an internal rift within the state Congress unit over the issue.

Bhattacharya said, “We wanted an alliance but the Front is only looking at an adjustment. It is important to work together.”

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