5 Jan 2024

Tensions emerge within INDIA Alliance, will dispute between Congress and Trinamool over seat sharing in West Bengal escalate?

Tensions Emerge within INDIA Alliance as Congress and Trinamool clash over Lok Sabha Seat Sharing in West Bengal

The Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) faces internal strife as its prominent allies, the Congress and the Trinamool Congress, engage in a heated dispute over the allocation of seats for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections-2024 in West Bengal.

Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, the Bengal State Congress president, asserted, "The grand old party won't seek seats from the TMC," triggering a response from the Mamata Banerjee-led party, which declared, "Criticizing alliance partners and seat sharing cannot coexist."

Chowdhury, known for his critical stance on the TMC, launched a vigorous attack, accusing the ruling party in Bengal of prioritizing 'serving Prime Minister Narendra Modi' over strengthening the opposition alliance.

The TMC swiftly responded, criticizing Chowdhury for his 'callous remarks' and cautioning the Congress high command to control their state president.

TMC inclined to offer only two seats?

The dispute over seat sharing has intensified, with reports suggesting that the TMC is inclined to offer only two seats, a proposition unacceptable to the Congress Bengal unit.

In the 2019 elections, the TMC secured 22 seats, the Congress won two (Behrampore and Malda South), and the BJP claimed 18.

The verbal sparring, ongoing for several days, escalated on Thursday as Chowdhury accused the TMC of lacking seriousness about aligning with the Congress in Bengal.

"The TMC is not genuinely interested in strengthening or forming an alliance in Bengal. They are busy pleasing and serving Prime Minister Narendra Modi to shield themselves from the CBI and the ED," he stated in his constituency.

'If necessary, we will contest independently'

Reacting to reports that the TMC might relinquish the two seats won by the Congress in 2019, Chowdhury expressed displeasure, asserting, "Congress will not beg for seats from TMC."

He added, "We don't need their charity. Who are they to decide how many seats our party will contest? If necessary, we will contest independently; let the party high command make a decision," underscoring his role in the ongoing Communist Party of India (Marxist)-Congress alliance in West Bengal.

Congress MP from Malda South, Abu Hasem Khan Choudhury, had earlier claimed that TMC would concede his seat and Berhampore as part of the seat-sharing deal.

'TMC inclined to allocate four out of 42 LS seats to Cong'

According to TMC sources, the party is inclined to allocate four out of the 42 Lok Sabha seats to Congress. Currently, Congress holds two seats in West Bengal, both in minority-dominated districts of Malda and Murshidabad.

The TMC leadership strongly criticized Chowdhury, urging the Congress high command to rein him in for a serious alliance.

'Cong high command must rein in Adhir Chowdhury'

Senior TMC MP Sougata Roy emphasized, "Criticizing TMC, our party supremo Mamata Banerjee, and alliance cannot go hand in hand. The constant insults from Chowdhury and some Bengal Congress leaders must cease for the party to seek an alliance. The Congress high command must rein in Adhir Chowdhury if they desire an alliance in Bengal."

Roy questioned the basis for Chowdhury's remarks, stating, "Who told him that we offered two seats? Our leader Mamata Banerjee has declared that TMC will lead the fight in Bengal, while the INDIA alliance will combat the BJP nationally."

During the December 19 INDIA opposition bloc meeting, the TMC set a December 31 deadline for finalizing the seat-sharing agreement, a demand yet to be met.

The political landscape witnessed a shift when Mamata Banerjee, just before the opposition bloc meeting, expressed confidence in a three-way alliance involving the TMC, Congress, and the Left.

However, Banerjee later accused the CPI-M and Congress of colluding with the BJP in West Bengal, asserting that the TMC would lead the battle against the saffron camp in Bengal, while the INDIA bloc would spearhead the fight nationwide.

The history of their alliance has been marked by discontent, with Congress accusing the TMC of denying them legitimate seats in previous elections.

Meanwhile, in the midst of a verbal dispute sparked by Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury's remarks on seat-sharing in West Bengal, Trinamool Congress (TMC) sources stated on Thursday that they are willing to grant additional time for the Congress ally to resolve issues. They emphasized the party's dedication to the opposition alliance.

Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra will cross through West Bengal

With the Congress set to launch the second leg of 'Bharat Jodo Yatra' -- the 'Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra', which will cross through West Bengal, the TMC source said so far there have been no discussions on holding any joint programmes.

The route map for the yatra was released on Thursday.

The yatra will be in West Bengal for five days, covering 523 km and seven districts, including Murshidabad. Chowdhury's constituency Baharampur is in Murshidabad district.

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