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Home > News > PTI

Poll scenario in Bengal still fudgy

March 20, 2006 11:37 IST

With barely a month to go for the first phase of Assembly elections in West Bengal, the poll scenario in the state is still unclear as the opposition camp, led by Trinamool Congress, is yet to cobble together an electoral alliance against the ruling Left Front despite several rounds of parleys.

The concept of grand alliance comprising the Trinamool Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party and Congress propounded by Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee is still a non-starter after the Congress' refusal to be a part of such coalition with BJP as a constituent.

Still hopeful of forming an alliance against the Commonist Party of India (Marxist), the Trinamool chief has so far announced the names of 201 of the 294 candidates for the party-led 'Gana Front' leaving 93 seats for the Congress, BJP and some smaller parties.

Of the 201 names, Trinamool alone has put up candidates in 193 seats leaving eight to the smaller partners of 'Gana Front'.

As a gesture to the Congress, Trinamool has not fielded candidates against 30 sitting Congress legislators, but also hinted that it is ready to offer more than 66 seats to the party, but Congress continues to put Trinamool's severing of ties with NDA as a condition for any alliance.

Congress cannot enter into an alliance with Trinamool unless it comes out of the National Democratic Alliance, Defence Minister and WBPCC president Pranab Mukherjee recently said.

Seeking to put the ball back into Trinamool's court, All India Congress Committee general secretary in-charge of the state Margaret Alva had stated on Sunday that Bannerjee has to decide whether Trinamool wanted to "fight" the Marxists or the Congress.

Bannerjee in support of her grand alliance concept, asked the Congress not to make her party's snapping ties with the NDA a prerequisite and said the Trinamool had not put any condition to Congress which was running the United Progressive Alliance government with Left support.

The main issue in the state is to unitedly fight against the CPI (M), she had stated. She said the Congress had also made an offer to her of forming a progressive secular front.

After having bonhomie with BJP for quite sometime, the Trinamool's relations with the party have also soured on the issue of seat sharing.

Notwithstanding few rounds of talks with the BJP central and state leadership, the two parties are yet to clinch any deal.

Even as the BJP central election observer for the state Arun Jaitley, after his meeting with Banerjee on Saturday night, stated that the two parties had narrowed down their differences, the 'hitch' over some good seats demanded by the BJP continues.

''We have reached understanding on 14 seats with TC which is ready to give 30 odd seats to us. But our party wants eight seats of our choice. The talks with TC will continue and we hope to find a solution," state BJP general secretary Rahul

Sinha said in Kolkata.

Political observers say that although the Trinamool supremo has floated the grand alliance concept to stop a division in anti-CPI(M) votes, the split of anti-left votes looked almost certain with the Congress refusal to be a part of any formation with BJP as a partner and the Trinamool declining to snap ties with the NDA.

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