Purulia - problem seat in WB Congress-LF talks



The Purulia Lok Sabha seat has now emerged as the bone of contention in the seat adjustment talks between the Left Front and the Congress for the upcoming polls in West Bengal, though a senior Congress leader on Wednesday hoped the LF spearhead CPI-M would not be averse to his party fighting from the constituency.

To facilitate the talks, the LF partners on Wednesday decided to keep on hold their earlier decision to declare their candidates.

"Discussions are on. Nothing has been finalised yet. But we are hopeful that the talks will be fruitful," Congress MP and former state party President Pradip Bhattacharya told IANS.

Earlier, the discussions had stalled over the Congress insistence to put up candidates in Raiganj and Murshidabad, the only two seats won by the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) in the 2014 Lok Sabha election.

The deadlock was resolved after Congress President Rahul Gandhi intervened and persuaded the state leadership to leave the two seats to the CPI-M.

The CPI-M, which has advocated a no-contest policy in the six seats -- Congress four, CPI-M two -- won by the two parties in the 2014 polls, has already announced that the LF would not be in fray in Baharampur, Jangipur, North Malda and South Malda constituencies that went to the Congress then.

However, Purulia presents a far more complex problem. The seat is contested by the LF partner All India Forward Bloc (AIFB) -- a party rooted in anti-Congressism -- which has refused to even sit with the Congress for any talks on seat adjustments for any constituency in the state.

But a senior Congress leader pooh-poohed the AIFB's objection.

"We will contest from Purulia. We are not bothered with what the AIFB says. It will be absolutely ok for us if the CPI-M is on the same page with us," he said.

In such a case, the Congress is hopeful of the CPI-M supporters casting their votes for its candidate, leaving AIFB in the lurch.

Sources said on Tuesday, state CPI-M Secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra and party's state secretariat member Rabin Deb went to Bhattacharya's house for a fresh round of discussions. Earlier, state Congress President Somen Mitra had also taken part in the talks.

On Wednesday, the LF partners held detailed discussions on the emerging scenario, with only five days to go for issue of notification for the first phase of polls.

"The Congress is keen on fighting 17 seats, leaving 25 to the LF. But we have our compulsions. The LF partners RSP, AIFB and CPI are for contesting three seats each. We are for an independent candidate in Darjeeling. Also, a couple of other parties have sought seats from us.

"If we have to accommodate all of them, we need more seats. In such a scenario, we will propose to the Congress leadership that they settle for 13-15 seats," said a CPI-M source.

There was speculation that Congress leader Deepa Dasmunsi, peeved over the Congress agreeing to leave her old constituency Raiganj to the CPI-M, may be asked to fight from Malda North, but Bhattacharya denied any discussions on those lines.

"I don't know of any such discussions," he said. -IANS