Kolkata: The CPI(M)-led Left Front Tuesday announced candidates for 13 more Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal, taking the total number of its contestants to 38.
The grouping, however, kept its door for seat sharing talks with the Congress open till Wednesday evening by not declaring nominees in four seats, which the national party had won in the 2014 general elections.
Even the list of 38 candidates could be altered if the Left Front gets a positive response from the Congress by tomorrow evening on an alliance, the front’s chairman Biman Bose said.
The development came a day after the Congress announced candidates for 11 seats including Raiganj and Murshidabad, which the CPI(M) had won in 2014.
“We announced a list of 38 candidates. We are not announcing the names of four seats which the Congress had won the last time. We will wait till Wednesday evening for a response from the Congress,” Mr Bose told reporters.
“If there is no response, we will go ahead with the remaining four seats. But if we get a positive response, things can change. The list that I announced today can also be changed,” he said.
“We hope good sense will prevail and the Congress will realise the need for maximum pooling of anti-BJP and anti-TMC votes in the state. We will wait for their response,” Mr Bose said.
In response, the Congress said it cannot be browbeaten this way.
“We won’t bow down before such threats or ultimatum. We have a party policy to follow and we can’t just rush into a decision. We have to discuss the matter. Let’s see what happens,” chairman of the Congress’s state coordination committee Pradip Bhattacharya told.
The Left Front announced its first list of candidates for 25 seats in West Bengal for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls last Friday leaving 17 constituencies for the Congress.
But the Congress was not happy with the seats that were left for the party by the Front.
On the claims by the Congress that it was not given enough seats, Bose said the party should examine its percentage of votes in all the 42 seats in 2014 polls before making such comments.
“There are several seats where the Congress” vote share was between 1.5 and 2 per cent,” Bose said.
After weeks of parleys failed to resolve the impasse over distribution of seats, the West Bengal unit of the Congress on Sunday called off the talks, saying it did not want any alliance by compromising the party’s dignity.
Since the beginning of seat-sharing talks between them, several issues have cropped up time and again.
The initial impasse over Raiganj and Murshidabad seats were resolved after the intervention of Congress president Rahul Gandhi and CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, and the left party had got the two constituencies.
In 2014, the CPI(M) won Raiganj and Murshidabad in a four-cornered contest, though they have been traditional Congress strongholds.
In the 42-member assembly, the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) has 34 MPs followed by the Congress with four. The BJP and the CPI(M) each has two members in the house.
The state will go to polls in seven phases from April 11.
Get the latest election news, live updates and election schedule for Lok Sabha Elections 2019 on ndtv.com/elections. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram for updates from each of the 543 parliamentary seats for the 2019 Indian general elections.