Congress Refuses LF’s Bengal Seat Adjustment Offer

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Kolkata: In a last ditch attempt to forge a seat adjustment formula with the Congress in West Bengal in the 2019 polls, the Left Front on Tuesday announced the second list of its Lok Sabha candidates, leaving four seats won by the Congress in the last General Elections.

The state Congress leadership, however, rejected the offer claiming their party cannot be at the “mercy of anyone” and stated that it would fight in all 42 Lok Sabha seats in Bengal on its own.

The Left Front, which had announced the names of 25 candidates in its first list on March 15, named its candidates for 13 more constituencies in the state, including Darjeeling in the north Bengal hills, Asansol industrial belt and city-based seats like Kolkata South, Kollata North and Howrah on Tuesday, taking the tally to 38.

The Left candidates’ list consists of six women and five doctors. The Left Front major CPI-M has 29 candidates, while three of its allies– All India Forward Bloc (AIFB), Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) and Communist Party of India (CPI) have three candidates each.

However, four Lok Sabha seats–Malda North, Malda South, Jangipur and Baharampur, all of which were won by the Congress five years ago, have been left vacant by the party.

“We still haven’t fielded any candidates in four Lok Sabha seats here. It does not mean that we will not field candidates in these seats ever. But we want that our good gesture should get a response from the Congress party. If they do not respond positively, then we have to move otherwise,” state Left Front Chairman Biman Bose told reporters here.

“There is still time till 4.30 pm tomorrow. If there is no response from them by then, we have to think further,” he added.

State Congress President Somen Mitra, however, said the party will not sacrifice its “dignity” for the sake of an alliance and announced that they would go it alone in Bengal.

“There is no need to have more talks. We have made up our mind. The situation of Congress is not so bad that it would have to live at others’ mercy. Our party President Rahul Gandhi has told us not to compromise with the party’s dignity. He said that if we fight alone with our heads held high and do not win a single seat, he will still appreciate our efforts,” he said.

Among the left candidates, two sitting MPs, Mohammed Salim and Badruddoza Khan, will contest from their seats in Raigunj and Murshidabad, respectively.

Former Kolkata Mayor and senior CPI-M leader Bikas Ranjan Bhattacharya is set to contest from south Kolkata’s prestigious Jadavpur constituency. He is up against popular Bengali actress Mimi Chakbaborty, fielded by Trinamool Congress.

The CPI-M has also named Jadavpur University professor Nandini Mukherjee as its candidate for the South Kolkata constituency.

Former MP Ram Chandra Dome of the CPI-M will contest from the Bolpur constituency in Birbhum district. He will be pitted against Trinamool’s Asit Mal, after the state ruling party’s sitting MP from Bolpur, Anupam Hazra, switched over to the BJP earlier this year.