LF-Congress seat-adjustment talks suffer jolt

Kolkata, March 10 (IANS) The seat-adjustment talks between the Left Front and the Congress hit a major roadblock on Thursday with the former coming out with its second list of 88 candidates that included a number of seats which the Congress has earmarked for itself in the upcoming West Bengal assembly polls.

An angry state Congress chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said his party could not be taken for granted, and threatened to put up candidates on all seats.

The 88 seats announced by LF chairman Biman Bose during the day contained 84 where its partners would be contesting. The LF also left two seats each for its associates Rashtriya Janata Dal and Janata Dal (United).

The LF had on March 7 announced its first list of 116 candidates for the 294-member assembly, which goes to the hustings in seven phases from April 4 to May 5.

While Chowdhury had on March 7 itself sounded miffed over the LF announcing three candidates in his pocket-borough Murshidabad district, he was left fuming on Thursday after Bose declared candidates for nine other seats in the district which elects altogether 22 seats.

With the Congress having named the 75 seats which it has earmarked for contesting — though it is yet to announces names of candidates for these constituencies — there are now 16 seats where both the LF and the Congress have declared nominees.

The biggest hurdle seems to be Murshidabad where LF and the Congress candidates overlap in eight seats. In Birbhum district, candidates of both LF and the Congress are in fray in four seats.

Bose, however, said there could be discussions on some of the seats which were disputed.

“Discussions may be needed for some of the seats. Then we may announce a small third list.”

Bose, who gave the call for a people’s grand alliance, stressed on the need to prevent any division of anti-Trinamool votes.

But soon after Bose’s press meet, Chowdhury went all guns blazing.

“In deference to the peoples’ wishes, and taking a pragmatic view, we had shown all sincerity in arriving at an understanding after prolonged talks. We don’t know what are their compulsions.

“We had prepared a list of constituencies after the discussions. But now if they feel they will contest more seats, no one should assume that the Congess will accept that.”

“Congress will fight where it is organisationally strong.”

“Chowdhury said his party had “no problems with triangular fights”.

“There can be triangular fights. We have no objection to that. I had persuaded our high command to agree to the understanding, in respect to the people’s sentiments. But now if they feel they can take the Congress for granted, they have made a mistake,” he said.

Asked whether the eat-adjustment talks would continue, Chowdhury said: “May be, otherwise we will fight all the seats.”

The latest LF list included a number of heavyweights. Asim Dasgupta, who holds a record of having been the state finance minister for 24 years till 2011, would take on incumbent finance minister Amit Mitra in his old constituency of Khardah of North 24 Parganas district.

Other former ministers named as candidates are Abdus Sattar (Amdanga), and Debesh Das (Entally) of the CPI-m, and Revlutionary Socialist Party’s Biswanath Chowdhury (Balurghat) and Subhas Naska (Basanti).

CPI-M state secretariat member Sujon Chakraborty is joined the fight in South 24 Parganas district’s Jadavpur, from where former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee was humbled in 2011.

Of the 84 candidates, 42 are from the CPI-M, 17 from the All India Froward Bloc and 16 from RSP. The Communist Party of India is fighting in half a dozen seats, Revolutionary Communist Party fo India in two, and forward Bloc (Marxist) in one seat.

RJD nominees would contest from Kolkata’s Jorasanko and Bhatpara of North 24 Parganas district. The JD(U) would fight from Howrah Central in Howrah district and Islampur of North Dinajpur.

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