Congress refuses to give up 11 Bengal seats

Prospects of deal with Left disappear

Prospects of an electoral understanding between the Left Front and the Congress in West Bengal disappeared on Wednesday, with the latter refusing to compromise on 11 seats for which it has announced candidates. “From our end there is no scope for rethinking,” State Congress leader and Rajya Sabha MP Pradip Bhattacharya told journalists in Kolkata. Earlier this week, the Congress had announced candidates for the 11 seats, including Raiganj and Murshidabad that were won by the LF in 2014.

In a last-ditch attempt to salvage a deal, the LF on Tuesday did not announce candidates for four seats won by the Congress in 2014 — Bahrampur, Jangipur, Malda North and Malda South.

However, it announced candidates for 38 out of the 42 seats in the State.

In response to the Left Front’s overture, Mr. Bhattacharya had said that the Congress would not field candidates in five seats in south Bengal — Diamond Harbour, Asansol, Tamluk, Bolpur and Bishnupur. However, the Left Front pointed out that the Congress had hardly any presence in these five constituencies.

“Congress got hardly two percent votes at Bishnupur…this cannot be a subject of debate now. The question is why was the principle of no mutual contest on six seats won by the Left and Congress was not adhered to,” CPI(M) leader and MLA Sujan Chakraborty said. With talks of alliance collapsed blame game has also started. Mr Bhattacharya tried to put the blame on Left parties by saying that “Congress wanted an alliance and the Left was insistent on seat sharing” .

“There is no reason to believe that if we contest the polls alone, our results will be affected. These parties were very much there when we won seats earlierfrom the State during the elections held earlier,” the Congress leader said.

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