After days of political wrangling over seat-sharing, the Trinamool Congress has finally agreed to concede around 68 seats to the Congress in West Bengal.
“The groundwork for seat-sharing has been completed. The agreement will be announced after final approval by Mamata Banerjee and Pranab Mukherjee in Kolkata on Tuesday,” a senior Trinamool leader said.
The Congress also ruled out any “hitch” in finalising the deal. “There is no hitch…. every political party wants to increase its political space,” Congress spokesman Manish Tewari said.
Earlier in the day, Mukherjee discussed threadbare the tie-up with Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her political secretary Ahmed Patel.
He is also understood to have held a series of telephonic discussions with Banerjee, whose party had initially offered 58 seats to the Congress.
Banerjee is learnt to have scaled up her offer keeping in mind the need to put up a united front to end the 34-year-long “misrule” of the CPM-led Left government.
As part of the new deal, the Trinamool will contest on 30-40 seats in Assam. “These will be more or less friendly fights,” the Trinamool leader said.
Banerjee’s party had earlier indicated that it would contest 100 of the total 126 seats in that state, using it as a bargaining chip for Bengal.
The strategy appears to have worked for Banerjee, as the Congress is unwilling to share political turf with the Trinamool in Assam where it fancies returning to power for the third successive term on its own.