NEW DELHI: Despite biting the dust in the recent assembly polls, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Congress perhaps need each other more than ever in West Bengal.
Resisting post-poll violence may be an immediate necessity for the two parties but in the long run, securing Rajya Sabha seats will be a lucrative reason for the Congress and the communists to stick together.
In the next two years, 11 Rajya Sabha seats will become vacant in the state and the Congress and the Left can easily win at least two of these but only if they join hands.
Out of the 11 seats, three are held by the Left and the Congress collectively. CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, former Congress state president Pradip Bhattacharya along with Tapan Sen, the general secretary of party’s trade union arm Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) are the incumbent Rajya Sabha members.
If the Left and Congress can’t forge an understanding over these biennial polls, the two sides may end up getting nothing.
The Congress can retain its seat in 2017 but has just two MLAs more than the required strength. The party is in a precarious position as it has often been on the receiving end of poaching and last-minute defection. The Left and Congress together can ensure easy victory for a joint candidate.
“All these things will come up for discussion at an appropriate time. We are aware of the rising clout of rightwing forces in Parliament. Conceding more ground to the Trinamool Congress (TMC) or the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is out of question,” said a CPI(M) central committee member.
In Rajya Sabha, where the BJP is in minority, every seat is precious for the Congress-led Opposition as the Trinamool is expected to align with the rightwing party on many issues like the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill.
The biennial elections also come against the backdrop of the growing strength of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in the Upper House, where the Opposition has so far been able to stall key bills.
Sitaram Yechury has also announced that the joint cooperation between the Congress and the Left would continue in the state in the wake of the recent attacks on Left and Congress workers allegedly by TMC members.