If the electoral alliance between the Congress and the Trinamool Congress has left the West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) leaders fuming and demoralised, Mamata Banerjee’s decision to field fresh faces to break the cartel of local leaders has created tension in her party.
PCC leaders feel the alliance with Mamata at the cost of making the Congress contest only in 65 of the 294 Assembly seats is an insult to the party.
Congress MPs, like Adhir Chowdhury of Murshidabad and Deepa Dasmunshi of Uttar Dinajpur, and senior PCC leaders, like Shankar Singh of Nadia, Debi Ghoshal and Asit Majumdar of North 24 Parganas and Nepal Mahato of Purulia, have strongly resented the seat-sharing pact. “We will not accept this deal and will field candidates against the Trinamool and the CPM,” said a senior PCC leader.
A similar situation had arisen in 2001, when Mamata had given only 57 seats to the Congress. An angry Congress fielded 100 independent candidates to queer Mamata’s pitch.
“We are very unhappy that the seats of two sitting MLAs Ram Pyare Ram and Abdul Khaleque Mollah have been taken from us,” said PCC chief Manas Bhuniya. “Even going by conservative estimates we would have won 44 seats out of the 90 we demanded. But now, in most seats that we will contest, Congress will trail by huge margins,” said a PCC leader.
Meanwhile, in the Trinamool too, there is resentment over the choice of candidates. District leaders said their recommendations were overlooked.
They cite East Midnapore, where Trinamool general secretary and Union MoS for shipping Mukul Roy and local leaders Sisir and Suvendu Adhikaris are at loggerheads over the choice of candidates. Banerjee, however, said, “No matter what people say, we have given nomination to fresh faces who are hardworking and acceptable to the people. There is no resentment. The best candidate has got the chance to contest.”