Cong to focus on quality of seats rather than quantity in Bengal: Sources
New Jan 15 (IANS) The Congress in West Bengal is engaged in seat-sharing talks with the Left Parties for the upcoming polls, while the TMC has appealed to Left and the Congress to join hands with them but the Congress and Left have ignored the call while Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury advised Mamata Banerji to talk to Sonia Gandhi.
Sources privy to the talks on the seat-sharing agreement said that the Congress’s main focus will be on quality of seats and not quantity of seats unlike in Bihar where the party contested too many seats but won only 19 .
The Congress has set up a committee to chalk out a seat-sharing agreement with Left parties for the West Bengal Assembly polls. The committee has Congress state president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, CLP leader Abdul Mannan, former state chief Pradeep Bhattacharya and Nepal Mahato.
The committee has identified strong seats and is talking to the Left seat-wise with all the prospects on the table. One of the panel members said “We are focusing on strong seats only.” The results of the Bihar election have dented the party’s prospects of getting more seats. The Congress in Bihar could not maintain the strike rate and lost crucial seats to the ruling NDA which cost the RJD alliance.
But Congress sources say that Bihar results will not have a bearing on West Bengal as every state is different and in the 2016 Assembly election the Left contested more seats but it was the Congress which came second with 44 seats.
The Congress and the Left face a tough challenge this time as the BJP in the last five years has placed itself as the main opposition party, winning 18 Lok Sabha seats in the state while the Left could not even open its account in the state which it once ruled for over three decades.
The 294-member West Bengal Assembly will go to the polls around May. While the Trinamool Congress has the challenge to retain power, the Congress also has to gain ground in the state. In 2016, the Congress fought in alliance with the Left parties and secured 44 seats to emerge as the second-largest party. However, half of its MLAs have since joined the Trinamool Congress.