Lok Sabha elections 2019: Congress leaves 5 seats for Left Front in West Bengal

Kolkata: Amid the ongoing impasse over sharing of seats for the Lok Sabha elections in West Bengal, the Congress on Wednesday decided to leave five seats for the Left Front, but said it would field candidates in the two seats won by the Left parties in the last general elections in 2014.

The Congress has already announced candidates for 11 constituencies in West Bengal, including Murshidabad and Raiganj, the seats held by Left Front major CPI-M.

“As a goodwill gesture towards the Left Front, we have decided not to field our candidates in five Lok Sabha seats — Diamond Harbour, Tamluk, Asansol, Arambag and Bishnupur,” veteran Congress leader Pradip Bhattacharya told reporters here.

“We expect that the Left Front will acknowledge our gesture and refrain from fielding candidates in the four seats won by the Congress the last time. We are waiting for the message from their end,” he said.

Following the understanding between the Opposition’s Grand Alliance, the Left Front has so far named candidates for 38 of the 42 Lok Sabha constituencies in the state, leaving four seats that the Congress won in 2014.

Left Front Chairman Biman Bose on Tuesday urged the Congress to respond to their “goodwill gesture” by Wednesday afternoon and said they would have to “act otherwise” if the Congress fails to respond.

“We will not ask them to take a decision by tomorrow afternoon. Congress never resorts to such strange behaviour. But we will expect the Left leaders to take a call as soon as possible. If they do not inform us about their decision, Congress will decide upon the future course of action following discussions among its leaders,” Bhattacharya said.

Asked whether the Congress would reconsider the Left’s appeal to not field candidates in the two seats held by them, Bhattacharya said there is no scope for rethinking as the names of the Congress candidates from both the seats have already been announced.

“Our candidates for 11 Lok Sabha seats from Bengal have already been decided upon by the central committee. So there is no scope of rethinking,” he said.

Talking about the impasse in the seat adjustment talks, the Congress leader claimed there was no hindrance from their end and that the party wanted a “complete alliance” with the Left.

“We have discussed the matter with our central leadership in Delhi. There was no hindrance from our end regarding seat adjustment. We wanted a complete alliance, not seat adjustment,” he said.

He said the Congress always wanted to hold joint rallies and campaigns with the Left in the run up to the elections, but the latter clearly stated that they do not want any alliance with the Congress.

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