Cong a letdown for Bihar GA, party must be realistic during seat-sharing talks in WB: Dipankar Bhattacharya

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Kolkata, Nov 22 (PTI) Describing the Congress as a 'big letdown' for the Grand Alliance, which failed to form government in Bihar, CPI(ML) Liberation general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya hoped the party would adopt a 'more realistic' approach during its seat-sharing talks with the Left Front in West Bengal.

Bhattacharya said he was sure that the grand old party, too, would be reviewing its poor show in Bihar and be reasonable while sealing a seat-sharing deal in politically sensitive Bengal, where the saffron brigade is making all efforts to clinch power.

Citing the poll results in Bihar, where the Congress, as a partner of the Grand Alliance, fared poorly, Bhattacharya told PTI in an interview, 'The party shouldn't be in the driver's seat in the CPI(M)-Congress alliance in West Bengal'.

As part of the seat-sharing deal in the Mahagathbandhan in the recently concluded Bihar elections, the Congress fielded its candidates in 70 out of 243 seats in the state and managed to bag 19.

It isn't just in Bihar that the performance of the Congress has dipped, the grand old party scored low in Lok Sabha elections since 2014, as well as in many state polls in the recent years.

In Uttar Pradesh, where Rahul Gandhi and Akhilesh Yadav came together in 2017 to fight the BJP, the Congress could win only seven seats, while the Samajwadi Party emerged victorious in 47 segments.

In Assam, where elections are due in March-April next year, the Congress, which had been ruling the state since 2001, lost power in 2016 when its strength slipped to 26 in the 126-member House.

Similarly, during Tripura polls, the Congress drew blank in 10 seats that it had won in 2013.

More recently, in Odisha, where assembly elections were held along with the parliamentary polls in 2019, the Naveen Patnaik-headed BJD returned to power, clinching 112 seats in the 147-member assembly, while the Congress lost its position as the main opposition to the BJP.

The Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninst) (Liberation), on the other hand, has performed well in Bihar, winning 12 out of the 19 assembly constituencies it contested.

Even the CPI and CPI(M) bagged two seats each. The two had no representation in the Bihar Assembly in 2015.

The CPI-ML (Liberation), which has pockets of influence in many areas of the central Bihar, had just won three seats during 2015 polls.

The RJD, which spearheads the anti-NDA coalition in Bihar, bagged 75 seats to emerge as the single largest party in state elections.

The Grand Alliance, altogether, won 110 seats.

The NDA, due to the stupendous results of the BJP, triumphed in 125 assembly segments, three more than the magic figure of 122 in the 243-member Bihar House.

'The Congress was a big letdown for the Grand Alliance in Bihar. The seat-sharing arrangement should have been a more realistic one. The success rate of the Congress is the lowest.

I am sure the party, too, would be reviewing its performance,' Bhattacharya said.

The veteran leader further said, 'I hope the Congress will learn its lessons from the just-concluded polls in Bihar and adopt a more realistic approach during the seat-sharing process in West Bengal.' Though not a part of the Left Front in Bengal -- which comprises the CPI(M), the CPI, the Forward Bloc and the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) -- the CPI-ML (Liberation) had been putting up its nominees in a handful of seats in the state without any success.

Buoyed by its performance in Bihar, the radical left- wing outfit is preparing to enter the fray in Bengal again, this time with more vigour.

The communist leader, however, replied in negative when asked about the possibility of any understanding between the CPI (ML) Liberation and the TMC in West Bengal to take on the BJP.

He also contended that it would be 'too early to comment' whether the party would be part of the CPI(M)- Congress alliance in the West Bengal, where Assembly polls are due in April-May next year. PTI PNT SNS RMS RMS