The argument given by the leaders was that both the seats were Congress strongholds.
New Delhi: A seat-sharing deal between CPI (M) and Congress in West Bengal entered rough waters with the Bengal Congress insisting on contesting the two seats of Raiganj and Murshidabad which are currently held by the CPI(M) and the Left Party insisting that no deal can be cut if these two sitting seats are not given to it.
After a meeting with his state leaders in the national capital, Congress president Rahul Gandhi told them that he would speak with CPI (M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury to sort out the matter.
However, a top CPI(M) leader told this newspaper that any understanding without these two sitting seats “would be a mere patchwork and would lack credibility and the party would not go for it”.
Earlier on Wednesday afternoon, leaders of the Bengal Congress, including PCC chief Somen Mitra, senior leader Pradeep Bhattacharya, CLP leader Abdul Mannan and general secretary in-charge Gaurav Gogoi met Mr Gandhi in and conveyed to him that the state unit wanted to contest from Raiganj and Murshidabad as well as wanted an “open alliance” with the CPI(M) which means that the two parties would campaign together.
The argument given by the leaders was that both the seats were Congress strongholds. While Murshidabad was supposed to be the bastion of Behrampore MP Adhir Chowdhary, senior leader Deepa Dasmunshi had lost the Raiganj seat by a mere 1600 votes.
Sources told this newspaper that the Bengal leaders feel that ground realities have changed since the 2014 general polls and this time it was a fight between brand Modi and brand Rahul and hence all anti-BJP votes would come towards the Congress.
The sources also said that though a final decision would be taken by Mr Gandhi, the state unit of the party was open for a four-cornered fight in these two seats and an electoral understanding in the rest 40.
West Bengal Congress chief Somen Mitra said: “The party's local unit wants the Raiganj and Murshidabad Lok Sabha seats with it. Rahul Gandhi will be talking to CPI-M leadership to resolve the situation".
On Monday, the CPI (M) had after a meeting of its Central Committee proposed “no mutual contest” for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections on six seats currently held by the Congress and the Left Front in the state.
It might be recalled that an almost similar arrangement in the West Bengal Assembly polls in 2016 in which the Trinamul Congress had romped home with a two-thirds majority had seen the West Bengal state unit being criticized heavily by the CPI(M) Central Committee which is the party’s highest decision making body.
The CC had in its post-mortem said: “The Central Committee concluded that electoral tactics adopted in West Bengal was not in consonance with the Central Committee decision not to have an alliance or understanding with the Congress. This should be rectified”.