Among those losing men to Mamata is the Youth Congress of Howrah district, one of the most powerful sections of the state Congress. Party leaders in Nadia, Burdwan, Birbhum and Purulia districts are also reported to be holding backchannel talks with the Trinamool.
Both the Congress and Trinamool wanted to field candidates for the Bowbazar and Sealdah bypolls, and talks were on till the end to reach a consensus. Both used to be traditional Congress seats and fell vacant after party stalwarts Somen Mitra and Sudip Bandopadhyay quit their party and joined Mamata. Initially, the Congress refused to yield and both the parties fielded candidates for the two seats. However, the AICC finally decided to pull out at the last minute, to facilitate a one-on-one fight with the Left.
State Congress leaders see the move as another instance of the party ceding to the Trinamool.
As the AICC is going on making sacrifices one after the other for the Trinamool Congress, grassroots Congressmen are getting the wrong signal. As a result many of them are joining the Trinamool in search of better prospects, a senior state Congress leader said.