LF to wait a day for Congress on Bengal seat-sharing

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Kolkata, March 18 (IANS) A day after the Congress declared it would contest all 42 Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal as seat-adjustment talks with the Left had failed, the Left Front on Monday said it was still hopeful of a Congress rethink and would wait for a day before announcing its final list of candidates.

Briefing media persons after a meeting of Left Front partners, coalition chairman Biman Bose accused the Trinamool Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party of having entered into an understanding in at least 8-10 seats and said “to defeat this game plan, maximisation of votes against the two parties was highly essential in today’s Bengal politics”.

“I still hope Congress’s good sense will prevail in the interest of the people. And they will take the right decision. But we cannot wait any further than tomorrow (Tuesday), when the LF constituents will meet and decide on the candidate list depending on the response from the Congress,” he added.

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State Congress President Somen Mitra had on Sunday announced that the talks had collapsed and said his party would contest all the 42 seats as “we don’t think that we need any alliance by compromising our party’s dignity”.

The immediate trigger for the Congress’s pull out was the LF decision to unilaterally nominate Rezaul Karim, the head of the state Congress doctors’ cell, as an independent candidate from Birbhum constituency.

However, Bose claimed Karim was neither a Congressman nor was he a part of his party. “He is a leader of a doctors’ organisation. We had chosen him as a face of the doctors’ movement.”

Bose also clarified that his party had not entered into an alliance with the Congress.

“We had only opted for seat-sharing, seat-adjustment… for uniting the people in accordance with our party’s decision to defeat the corrupt and communal BJP at the centre, and the undemocratic Trinamool Congress in the state.”

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Mitra had also accused the LF leaders negotiating with his party of coming up with a “weird logic” for Darjeeling constituency by “asking us to take candidates from a certain place”, despite agreeing to leave the seat to the Congress.

But Bose said the LF had pitched for a common candidate in Darjeeling. “We had only said that he should be a local person, not an imported candidate.”

Claiming that the LF had neither “created any complication”, nor did it want to “create any further complication”, he said “we have done no wrong”.

Asked whether the Congress was peeved after it was asked to contest in only 11 seats, he said: “We had put up candidates in 25 seats. But we have never used a single word on that. We had said we were ready to give them seven seats, apart from the four seats they won last time, and for the rest we were planning to put up common candidates.”

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Bose said the Congress had claimed seats in which it had got only five to nine percent of votes in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. “We were even prepared to leave for them a seat in which they had obtained only 2.90 per cent votes five years back.”

–IANS

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