With the steady emergence of BJP as principal Opposition party in West Bengal, Left Front and Congress have joined hands to fight against Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress in three municipalities— Raiganj (north Dinajpur), Domkal (Murshidabad) and Pujali (South 24-Parganas), according to The Indian Express. Notably, the Left and Congress tried the same formula in the 2016 Assembly Elections, but failed miserably. Both the parties, however, have declined to call it a formal alliance. While Congress has termed it a ‘seat-sharing strategy’ , CPM said it was an ‘exercise to unite all democratic forces’ against the TMC and the BJP.
“There is no alliance and it can’t be called seat sharing. This is just an exercise to ensure that all democratic forces come together to fight against the misrule of Trinamool Congress and the communal politics of the BJP,” says CPM spokesperson Mohammad Salim, also MP from Raiganj which is going to polls. Jadavpur MLA Sujan Chakraborty echoes Salim: “We are simply trying to get people together — all the democratic forces together. It’s not about seat sharing. It’s a larger fight against an undemocratic Trinamool Congress and a communal BJP,” as per IE report.
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BJP also has devised a smart strategy. With Domkal and Pujali having a large Muslim population, the BJP has fielded 10 Muslim candidates in these two municipalities, the IE reports. In recently held elections across the state, BJP has gained the number two spot. Notably, BJP had gained second position in bypolls to both the Cooch Behar Lok Sabha seat in November 2016 and the Kanthi Dakshin assembly seat last month.
PCC general secretary O P Mishra said it is a seat-sharing module has been worked out with the Left. In Raiganj, traditionally a Congress bastion until it elected Salim, the Congress will contest 18 seats and the CPM nine, he says. In Domkal, part of PCC president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury’s home district, the Congress will contest 10 and the CPM 11; in Pujali, each will contest eight seats. “The seat sharing is based on which candidate is likely to win,” he said.
In both Domkal and Raiganj, a number of Congress leaders have switched over to the Trinamool Congress, the IE report says. “It is true that the Trinamool Congress has made major inroads, so it becomes even more important for the Opposition to come together,” Mishra said.