West Bengal: CPI(M)-Congress part ways ahead of by-polls

After the disastrous performance of the Congress-CPI(M) alliance in the last Assembly poll, the CPI(M) was under fire from both its central leadership and Left Front partners.

Kolkata: The political honeymoon between the CPI(M) and the Congress in West Bengal is over with the parties, who were alliance partners in this year's Assembly poll, fielding their own candidates in the coming by-polls without so much as a dialogue between the two.

The state will witness by-polls in two Lok Sabha constituencies and one Assembly constituency on November 19.

After the disastrous performance of the Congress-CPI(M) alliance in the last Assembly poll, the CPI(M) was under fire from both its central leadership and Left Front partners.

CPI(M) politburo member and Left Front Chairman Biman Bose while announcing the list of candidates said they had not discussed anything with the Congress and told the party workers that it will fight the elections on its own.

The state Congress leadership, which was keen on continuing the alliance in the state, decided to hit back at the Marxist party and fielded its own candidates for the bypolls.

The CPI(M) state leadership cited their helplessness in carrying forward the alliance in the state as the party's central unit was against it.

"We wanted to continue this alliance, but our central committee was against it as forging an alliance or seat adjustment, which was done in last Assembly polls, is seen as a violation of party line adopted in the party congress," a senior CPI(M) central committee leader from Bengal told PTI.

However, he said, the party would conduct joint protest and agitations with the Congress, if they agree, but confirmed there would be no alliance.

The Congress, infuriated by the CPI(M)'s decision to go it alone has decided not only to field candidates but also to rethink whether to continue joint agitation programmes.

"They didn't even bother to inform us. Why should we go and beg before them for an alliance. We know it very well that if the CPI(M) and the Congress fight separately it will help TMC. Now it is for the CPI(M) to take the call as nothing can succeed unilaterally," state Congress president Adhir Chowdhury said.

According to CPI(M) state leaders, joint agitation and programmes with the Congress will prepare the ground for an alliance in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

"If we just go for an alliance without any joint movements, people will consider us opportunists," the CPI(M) leader said.

The state Congress leadership is, however, adamant on rethinking whether to continue the alliance or not.

The alliance between the CPI(M) and Congress failed to have much impact in the last assembly polls, as TMC single handedly won 211 seats with the alliance getting just 76 seats.

The TMC, which too had announced the list of candidates, said they were least bothered whether the alliance exists or not.

"Let them do whatever they want to. Did they achieve anything through the alliance they had forged in the last Assembly polls? The people have given a befitting reply to the opportunism. The people are with Mamata Banerjee and it will be reflected again in by-poll," TMC national vice-president Mukul Roy told PTI.

The TMC had got a shot in the arm as Greater Cooch Behar People's Association (GCPA) had extended its support to the party for the upcoming byelection in the Cooch Behar Lok Sabha seat.

The BJP, which had recently inducted controversial former CPI(M) leader Lakshman Seth, who was perceived to be the man behind the Nandigram trouble, too has announced its list of candidates and is hoping to make the most from the four-cornered contest in the bypolls.

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