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Congress-Left talks fail in West Bengal: CPM threatens retaliation as Congress announces candidates for Raiganj, Murshidabad

Congress has released the names of 11 candidates from West Bengal after failure of alliance talks with Left Front

A day after seat-sharing talks between the Congress and the Left Front fell apart in West Bengal, the Congress on Monday cleared the names of 11 candidates for the Lok Sabha elections. The list included candidates for two seats held by the CPM in West Bengal — Raiganj and Murshidabad, evoking a sharp reaction from the CPI(M). The Congress has declared that it will contest solo in the eastern state and field candidates across all 42 parliamentary seats including the Raiganj and Murshidabad seats.

According to a report in The Indian Express, the CPM now plans retaliation by fielding candidates in Congress’ strongholds. It said that CPM will be forced to withdraw its ‘no contest in sitting seats’ offer. The party made it clear that it will field candidates in four sitting seats of the Congress if the Congress decides to contest from the Raiganj and Murshidabad seats.

On Monday morning, the Congress central election committee met and cleared the names of 11 candidates including for Raiganj and Murshidabad seats. The CPM has already announced candidates from these seats and was expecting that the Congress would leave the seats. But the Congress has fielded Deepa Dasmunsi from Raiganj against CPM’s Mohd Salim and Abu Hena from Murshidabad against B Khan of the Left.

The Congress has so far managed to reach a consensus over seat-sharing only in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Jharkhand. The failure of talks in West Bengal indicates that parties having strong ground in states are adverse to accepting the Congress leadership. The situation is no different in Bihar where Congress and RJD talks have come under strain over Congress’ demand of 11 seats. Alliance partners have expressed concern over Congress concentrating more on expanding its base in states rather than focus on defeating the Baharatiya Janata Party.

The Congress is racing against time to conclude the seat-sharing talks in states as the Election Commission has already issued the notification for the first phase of polling. In the first phase, a total of 91 constituencies will go to polls spread across 20 states on April 11. Out of 91 seats, two are in West Bengal, eight are in Uttar Pradesh and four in Bihar.

A senior CPM leader told the IE that Congress was insisting on 17 seats which was unrealistic. The Congress’ firm stand on seats was the reason for failure of talks. However, on Monday, the Left Front said it was still hopeful of a Congress rethink and would wait a bit before announcing its final list of candidates. Briefing media persons after a meeting of Left Front partners, coalition chairman Biman Bose on Monday said that he hoped good sense will prevail in the interest of the people.

“They will take the right decision. But we cannot wait any further than tomorrow (Tuesday), when the Left Front constituents will meet and decide on the candidate list depending on the response from the Congress,” he added.

A senior CPM leader told the daily that the Left offered not to contest in Congress’s four sitting seats and was offering seven more seats to the grand old party. The CPM, he said, fights in 32 seats and the other Left parties in the remaining ten.

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Source: Financial Express