CPM’s demands led to talks failure: Bengal Congress chief

Abantika Ghosh
Bengal Congress president Somen Mitra. (File)

The Congress was willing to take a step back on the issue of candidature for the contentious seats of Raiganj and Murshidabad in West Bengal for the sake of alliance with the Left Front, but the "ego" and "impossible demands" of the CPI(M) state unit left the party with no option but to go it alone in order to maintain its "dignity", according to state Congress president Somen Mitra.

The Congress has since refused to leave for CPI(M) Raiganj and Murshidabad seats - won in 2014 by the Marxist party's Mohammed Salim and Badarudozza Khan, respectively.

Mitra told The Sunday Express that a compromise formula had been arrived at. He said: "The formula was that for the sake of the alliance, even the heavyweight candidates would take a step back. Adhir Chowdhury will let go of the Murshidabad seat and Deepa Dasmunshi will be accommodated later, possibly (with) a Rajya Sabha seat. But the impossible demands, conditions of the (CPI-M) state leadership, and their ego made it impossible for the Congress to enter into an alliance with its dignity intact."

Chowdhury, a former state Congress president, is the sitting MP from Baharampur, adjacent to Murshidabad constituency, and is the tallest leader in the district. Dasmunshi had lost to Selim by just over 1,600 votes from Raiganj in 2014.

The CPI(M)'s claim on the two seats is widely perceived as the reason the Left-Congress alliance for Lok Sabha polls did not take off in West Bengal.

Mitra said "unilateral" announcement of 25 seats by the Left Front was the turning point in the fledgling alliance's fortunes. "They announced candidates on their own and left 17 seats to be decided, of which four have sitting Congress members," he said. "Then they fielded candidates in seats such as Purulia and Basirhat and said the Congress can also contest those seats if it wants. What kind of an alliance is that?"