The informal ‘grand alliance’ in West Bengal between the Left parties and the Congress may just get bigger.
CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury told HT they will also share seats with Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) and Lalu Prasad’s RJD, the ruling coalition in the neighbouring state of Bihar.
“They can be given a seat each in West Bengal. There are areas in the state with large Hindi-speaking population. The JD(U) and the RJD’s appeal can work in those places,” Yechury said.
Seat-sharing talks are also on with Sharad Pawar’s NCP, the second-largest party in the erstwhile UPA when it lost power in 2014.
The possibility of the JD(U) and the RJD entering into a seat-sharing agreement with the Left parties and the Congress not only indicates a growing bonhomie among these parties but also a shrinking space for Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress in the ‘federal front’ quarters.
Ironically, both Banerjee and the Left leaders were invited by Kumar to attend his swearing-in ceremony in Patna last year.
In the Bihar polls, Banerjee had extended her moral support to the JD(U)-RJD-Congress coalition while the Left parties fought against Kumar and Lalu, forming their own alliance of six parties.
The new seat-sharing arrangement can also be seen as yet another desperate attempt of the CPI(M) to regain ground, both in the state as well as nationally.
The Party Congress of the CPI(M), the highest body of the communist party, had decided that it would stick to “Left democratic” forces to strengthen the core vote bank.
But recently, it opened the door for alliances with the Congress in West Bengal to take on the Trinamool Congress that looks comfortably seated in power.
A politburo member of the CPI(M) said, “There will, however, be no joint election rallies or meetings with the Congress for the polls. Yes, if the workers are attacked or posters are torn, we can jointly protest.”