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TMC, Left overtures to Cong adds suspense to poll alliance in Bengal

india Updated: Mar 04, 2016 14:59 IST
Saubhadra Chatterji
Saubhadra Chatterji
Hindustan Times

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee (R) awards the young achievers in the ITI training at Netaji Indoor Stadium in Kolkata. (Subhendu Ghosh/HT)

A CPI(M) lawmaker on Tuesday proudly showed journalists WhatsApp images of joint wall paintings of his party and the Congress only to see Trinamool walking out from Lok Sabha on Wednesday in “support” of the Congress, saying they too want a discussion on the Motion of Thanks to the President’s Address over the Aircel-Maxis debate.

Such contrasting signals from arch rivals Trinamool and the CPI(M) have added to the drama over the possible unprecedented understanding between the Congress and the Left parties for poll-bound West Bengal.

Even as Congress’ state chief Adhir Chowdhury maintained supporters of the CPI(M) and the Congress have united at the ground-level, Trinamool’s Lok Sabha leader Sudip Bandopadhyay rejected such claims.

“I have spoken to Congress president Sonia Gandhi at the lobby of Lok Sabha. She told me there is no decision for any tie-up with the Left for the West Bengal assembly polls,” Bandopadhyay told HT.

CPI(M) leaders quickly pointed out the recent meetings between Gandhi and CPI(M) chief Sitaram Yechury and another unpublicised meeting between the CPI(M) general secretary and a key Congress strategist.

The CPI(M) announced last month it will explore the possibilities of seeking support from democratic parties to fight against the Trinamool, indicating its willingness to join hands with the Congress.

State Congress leaders have submitted a letter to party vice-president Rahul Gandhi saying they would prefer to contest in around 120 out of 294 seats in the state, effectively leaving the other seats for the Left parties.

An undeterred Trinamool continues to warm up to the Congress. When Lok Sabha Speaker allowed a debate on Aircel-Maxis controversy that involves Congress leader P Chidambaram’s son, Karti, Trinamool was the first to raise an objection.

“As long as there is no formal announcement from the Congress high command, such political brinkmanship is likely to continue,” quipped a Congress leader.