Differences within the state Congress came to the fore today following West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee chief Manas Bhuniya's setting conditions for seat-sharing with its ally Trinamool for the ensuing Assembly polls in West Bengal.
A section of state Congress leaders questioned Bhuniya's demand that the party should be given 98 (one-third) of the 294 Assembly seats even before seat-sharing talks began with Trinamool Congress. "The seat-sharing talks are conducted between the Congress high command and its alliance partner for the assembly and Lok Sabha polls. Therefore, to place any demand from the state party leadership this way before seat-sharing talks begin will jeopardise the alliance," the new WBPCC general secretary Amitava Chakraborty told PTI.
"We should not unnecessarily do anything to frustrate the possibility of a tie-up with the Trinamool Congress by setting down the terms of the alliance before hand. It should be left to the party high command," Chakraborty said. Senior state Congress leader Pradip Bhattacherjee said, "Figures are decided during negotiations. The PCC president may be saying this. But the formula of seat-sharing is decided during the course of negotiation.It was unfortunate that we could not tie-up with Mamata Banerjee (the Trinamool chief) during the civic polls. We should tie-up with Mamata this time, keeping in mind that our primary objective is to put an end to the CPI-M's 35-year misrule," he said.
Mamata Banerjee had given only 14 seats to the Congress out of the 42 that the alliance contested in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls that stunned the Left. "The Congress must have 98 seats to contest, leaving 196 seats for Trinamool Congress," state Congress chief Manas Bhuniya told a meeting in Kolkata. The equation has been worked out under a formula giving two-third representation to the major partner (Trinamool) and one-third to Congress. Bhuniya, is among a section of state leaders, including party MP Deepa Dasmunshi, who are known for adopting a hardline stance on the issue of alliance with the Trinamool.
Bhuniya's comments came days after the Trinamool supremo at a public meeting called for strengthening alliance with Congress. "I welcome Banerjee's call. To make the alliance credible to the people, it must be based on joint-movement," Bhuniya said, while addressing a meeting yesterday with two smaller parties -- People's Democratic Conference of India and Party For Democratic Socialism -- with whom the Congress has recently forged alliances.