The West Bengal Congress on Sunday called off seat-sharing discussions with the Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led Left Front for Lok Sabha elections in the state after the parties failed to reach an agreement over distribution of seats, PTI reported.
“It has been decided by our party unit that we don’t want any adjustment or alliance by compromising our dignity,” state Congress chief Somen Mitra said after a closed-door party meeting on Sunday evening. “The Left can’t dictate to us on who will be a candidate and who won’t. We will fight alone in Bengal.”
Mitra said he would arrive in New Delhi on Monday with names of three probable candidates for every Lok Sabha seat for the first three phases. Elections in the state, which has 42 Lok Sabha seats, will take place in seven phases from April 11 to May 19. They will be contested by the ruling Trinamool Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party, Congress and the Left Front.
The Left Front has called a meeting on Monday to decide its next course of action. CPI(M) state secretary Surya Kanata Mishra said he would comment on the development only after the Congress makes the deal official.
The Left Front had announced its first list of candidates for 25 seats in the state on March 15, leaving 17 constituencies for the Congress. It declared that Congress leader Rezaul Karim, chairman of the state medical cell of the party, would contest from the Birbhum seat. But the Congress expressed dissatisfaction and claimed that Karim’s name had been declared without taking the party’s permission.
“How can they decide who will be our candidate? Our medical cell chairman’s name was declared as their Birbhum candidate without taking due permission from our side,” said Mitra. “This is absurd. So what’s the use of negotiations if the Left Front declares candidates on our behalf?”
Senior state Congress leader Subhankar Sarkar said the party wanted the alliance, but not as “a marriage of convenience”. “We wanted a credible alliance where both had equal respect, but the CPI(M) was unwilling to do that,” he said.