Cong to contest alone in Panchayat polls in Bengal
Kolkata: Close on the heels of its UPA ally Trinamool Congress deciding to go it alone in polls in West Bengal, Congress in the state today decided to contest the coming Panchayat elections on its own.
"Since Trinamool Congress has already annnounced that it will contest alone, we today decided to contest the polls independently and on our own strength," WBPCC president Pradip Bhattacherjee told reporters after a meeting to discuss the party`s strategy in the rural polls.
Bhattacherjee claimed the party was unanimous in its decision and there was no difference in the party.
Party insiders said leaders of districts, where Congress held sway, wanted to contest the election alone while the leadership in South Bengal was in favour of alliance with TMC which is strong in that area.
Bhattacharjee, however, ruled out the possibility of a break in Congress-TMC alliance over the issue.
"If you put a direct question whether this will lead to a split in the alliance or confrontation between the two partners, then my direct answer is no since Panchayat and municipal elections are not political elections," he said.
He cited the example of the last Panchayat elections when Left Front constituents Forward Bloc and RSP had joined hands with Congress and TMC and also contested separately.
Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee has indicated the grassroot polls could be held after the Durga Pujas though they are due next year.
Trinamool Congress has also indicated that it may not align with Congress in West Bengal in next Lok Sabha elections.
Congress and TMC had separately fought the municipal elections in the state in June.
The Panchayat elections will be a major trial of strength of major political parties before the Lok Sabha polls due in 2014.
CPI(M)-led Left Front at present has control over a majority of the Zilla Parishads, Panchayat Samities and Gram Panchayats across the state.
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