Congress calls off alliance with the Left in West Bengal

The alliance between the Congress and the Left Front is off the cards as both camps could not agree on a seat-sharing formula for Lok Sabha elections.

After weeks of hectic negotiations failed to break the deadlock over seat sharing, the Congress on Sunday called off its alliance with Left Front in West Bengal.

"We have decided that it is not possible for us to continue with this alliance. We don't need to be in an alliance that compromises the dignity of our party," announced West Bengal Pradesh Congress president Somen Mitra.

The decision comes after the Left Front on Friday announced Congress leader Dr Rezaul Karim's name in its first list of 25 candidates. Karim was the chairman of the state medical cell of the Congress.

While the Left's candidate list mentions Karim as their candidate from Birbhum, curiously enough it does not mention which party he represents!

"How can they decide who will be our candidate? Our Medical Cell chairman's name was declared as their Birbhum candidate without taking due permission from our side! This is bizarre. So what's the use of negotiations if Left front declares candidates on our behalf?" Mitra asked.

The party has now decided to contest all 42 seats in the state. Accordingly, Somen Mitra will meet party president Rahul Gandhi in New Delhi on Monday.

While the two sides initially began with a formula of retaining winning seats, trouble erupted when a section of state Congress leadership opposed handing over the Raiganj seat to CPI(M).

Even before a final decision could be taken, the Left Front made a unilateral announcement for 25 seats, leaving 17 seats for talks with the Congress. It even announced that its sitting MP from Raiganj Md Salim, who won the seat in 2014 was being re-nominated.

Unhappy with the arrangement, Congress leader Deepa Dasmunshi, who fought from Raiganj last elections rushed to Delhi only to be placated by Rahul Gandhi.

Left Front maintained that they will not give candidates on four seats, i.e Malda Uttar, Malda Dakshin, Jangipur and Baharampur which the Congress won in 2014. All these four seats are in North Bengal, known as a traditional Congress stronghold.