As a part of its seat- sharing talks, the Congress is battling alliance partner Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee on two fronts. It wants Banerjee to concede more than the 58 seats she is ready to give for the West Bengal elections. And it is keen that the Trinamool does not put up candidates in Assam lest a division of votes mar its prospects for a third consecutive term.
On both counts, the Congress may not succeed much. Conscious that the alliance stands a good chance to dislodge the Left Front government in West Bengal, the party has demanded 98 of the 294 assembly seats. Banerjee, who gave a list of only 58 seats to Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee before leaving for Kolkata, may at best up it by another three or four.
The Trinamool leader is also likely to field some candidates in Assam which goes to the polls on April 4 and 8. Her party has a presence in the Bengal, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh assemblies and is looking for yet another foothold to get the status of a national party.
EC guidelines say a "national party'' must get at least 6% votes from at least four states or secure 2% of the total seats in Lok Sabha from at least three states or be recognised as a state party in at least four states.
Congress chief Sonia Gandhi has been getting inputs on West Bengal from state in-charge Shakeel Ahmed and on Thursday from state unit chief Manas Bhuyian who had two meetings with general secretary Rahul Gandhi. Sources said the deal with Banerjee may be worked out by this weekend when Mukherjee goes to Kolkata.