Kolkata: Mamata Banerjee would be happy if Manik Sarkar held the red fort in Tripura for “greater interests”. But this doesn’t stop the West Bengal CM from fielding Trinamool candidates in all five Rajya Sabha seats from Bengal on March 23.
“I am not into blind opposition. You are on the verge of losing the elections in Tripura. But I would have been happy if you won the polls for a greater cause (to keep BJP at bay). Try to look at the big picture. Your haughtiness and ego have led to your downfall. You didn’t participate in the anti-BJP rally that Lalu Prasad had called in Patna,” the CM said in the assembly on Wednesday, addressing CPM MLA Sujan Chakraborty during the debate on recognition of languages such as Kamtapuri and Rajbanshi.
Sensing the mood, state Congress president Adhir Chowdhury again batted for fielding an “Independent” candidate against Trinamool for the fifth seat in consultation with Left Front.
“BJP has been gaining ground in all the elections since the CPM central comm-ittee turned down the Bengal CPM’s proposal of having an alliance or an understanding with Congress.
CPM leaders in Delhi should set aside such hair-splitting debates and take to political pragmatism. We can keep party symbols aside and look for an Independent candidate acceptable to both,” Chowdhury said.
The reason was simple. Congress and the Left separately do not have the first-preference vote quotient to get their candidates through. Congress has 34 MLAs while the Left has 29, far below the 49 quotient needed to get their candidates through. Trinamool, on the other hand, has 212 MLAs while 12 from other parties are ready to support its candidates.
Chowdhury, however, left it to Congress president Rahul Gandhi to choose the right candidate after the Congress Legislature Party meeting in the assembly. A similar effort was made during the last Rajya Sabha elections in Bengal in July. Congress had fielded Pradip Bhattacharya after CPM leaders in Delhi declined Rahul’s offer to back Sitaram Yechury for Rajya Sabha from Bengal. In a turn of events, Bhattacharya sailed through with Banerjee’s support.
Chakraborty didn’t rule out the state Congress’ proposal. “Our party is yet to take a decision on this matter. Chowdhury’s proposal for putting up an Independent candidate can be looked into,” he said. But it isn’t clear how far the Bengal CPM will risk getting into an “understanding” with Congress, a month before the Party Congress after the central committee in its recent Kolkata meeting ruling out any understanding with Congress.
Meanwhile, a businessman with presence in the Jharkhand-Purulia belt is trying to woo Bengal MLAs to get him elected to Rajya Sabha.