Even as the Congress and the Trinamool Congress get ready to discuss seat-sharing for the coming assembly elections in West Bengal , both the parties have adopted a tough stance in order to seek a better bargain.
On its part, the Congress is demanding 98 seats — one third of the 294 constituencies — on the basis of 1:2 formula evolved during 2009 Lok Sabha polls. This leaves the Trinamool with 196 seats, which is two-third of the total strength.As a pressure tactic, the Bengal Congress, headed by Manas Bhuniya, has already sent a list of 98 candidates to the party high command which in turn forwarded it to the Trinamool leadership.
But Trinamool chief and railways minister Mamata Banerjee is proving to be a tough cookie. She is not willing to give more than 50 to 55 seats to the Congress. “They are demanding moon…. It’s just a ploy to put pressure on us,” a Trinamool leader said.
The Trinamool is understood to have arrived at the figure on the basis of the seat sharing arrangement it had with the Congress in 2001. The Congress had settled for 57 seats, 26 less than the 83 it won in 1996 polls.
But the managers of the two parties also know it well that they cannot fight the Left Front separately. In the 2006 polls, when there was no seat adjustment, both suffered heavy loss. While the Trinamool won 30 seats, the Congress could bag only 21. But the two again came together in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls to win 27 of the 42 seats.
They are confident of arriving at an understanding to dethrone the CPM-led Left government after 33 years. “We both will unitedly wipe out the Left from the state. We will have good seat sharing,” said K Keshava Rao, Congress party’s in-charge of West Bengal affairs.
Leaders are now awaiting the outcome of crucial seta-sharing talks between Banerjee and finance minister Pranab Mukherjee soon.