The Congress on Thursday formally approved a tie-up with the Left parties for the upcoming assembly election in West Bengal, the state’s Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury told the media in Delhi. “Today the Congress high command has formally approved the electoral alliance with the Left parties in the impending election of West Bengal,” he tweeted.
West Bengal, along with Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam and Puducherry, will go to polls in March-April next year. In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the Congress and the Left suffered badly while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won 18 of the state’s 42 seats. The Left parties won nine while the Congress tally came down from four to two. “Now that the Congress leadership has given a formal approval to the tie-up, we have to discuss seat sharing with Left leaders in Bengal. This will be done at the state level. We will fight against both the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the BJP. There will be no demarcation here,” Chowdhury said. Asked whether the alliance will project anyone as its chief ministerial candidate, Chowdhury said, “There has been no discussion on this issue. Contesting the polls as one is the only priority,” he said. Sujan Chakraborty, CPI(M) legislator and leader of the Left parties in the assembly, said, “We have to discuss our strategy for the polls now that the Congress has formally approved the proposed tie-up.” In October, the central committee of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the party’s highest decision-making body, approved the Bengal unit’s decision to have an electoral understanding with all secular parties, including the Congress. In the 2016 elections, the CPI(M) leadership did not give its approval to the Bengal unit’s move to share seats with the Congress. The Congress won 44 seats and the Left Front ended up with 32 but the strength of both parties has eroded since then because of defections to the TMC and the BJP. For example, Dipali Biswas, the CPI(M) candidate who won the Gazole seat in Malda in 2016, joined the TMC in 2018. On December 19, she joined the BJP along with the TMC’s former minister and heavyweight leader Suvendu Adhikari.