State Cong for going it alone in LS polls

13 Nov 2018

The Congress unit in West Bengal is in favour of fighting the coming Lok Sabha election "alone" in the state despite the party forging alliances with different regional outfits in other parts of the country in its bid to oust the BJP.
The view has been communicated to Congress President Rahul Gandhi and the final call on the issue would be taken by the AICC leadership, West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee (WBPCC) president Somen Mitra told news agency PTI. The Congress has already been hit with the exodus of its elected representatives to the Trinamool Congress (TMC). The Bengal unit of the Congress feels that an alliance with either the CPM or the Trinamool Congress will not serve the "long term" interests of the party.
Such an eventuality will only further erode the party's base in the state though it had tasted success in Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh by forging alliances with regional parties the JD-S and the Samajwadi Party, Congress leaders said. "During my meeting with our party president Rahul Gandhi I had clearly said that it would be good if we fight the Lok Sabha election alone. We may not win many seats but our party will continue to exist in Bengal in the future," Mitra said. "Forging an alliance with the Trinamool Congress might give us more seats, but it will also ensure that the Congress will cease to exist in Bengal as TMC is more keen on poaching our MLAs and elected representatives," Mitra said.
Senior Congress leaders like P Chidambaram have advocated state-wise alliances to defeat the BJP at the Centre. According to state Congress leaders, aligning with the CPM-led Left Front will not serve any purpose as it will not ensure winning seats as the Left itself is facing a rout in the state. "So we have told the Congress president that it is better for the future of the party in Bengal that we fight the Lok Sabha election alone. Doing so may not ensure too many seats, but it will at least guarantee revival of our organisation in the long run," AICC member Subhankar Sarkar said.
Congress sources, who did not wish to be named, said one of main reasons behind the decision against aligning with the TMC is that the party is not very sure if it would be offered more than four LS seats, it presently has in the state, by the ruling party. "Everyone aspires to contest the election on a ticket of the party he has been working with. But due to alliances with the TMC in 2001, 2009 and 2011 and CPM in 2016 our organisation has suffered badly. We could neither offer seats to our party leaders, nor could we put up our symbols in various seats. That has badly damaged our organisation," a senior state Congress leader said.
The argument against going for an alliance with the CPM is lack of consistency on the part of the Left Front to remain in an alliance as it had unilaterally walked out of the alliance in 2016 after its defeat in the state assembly polls. There are some leaders within the state unit like Abu Hasem Khan Chowdhury, the Congress MP from Malda South and the brother of late party stalwart ABA Ghani Khan Chowdhury, his niece Mausam Benazir Noor, also an MP from the same district, who are strongly advocating Congress-TMC alliance to stop the march of BJP in West Bengal. (PTI)