Kolkata: The Congress and Trinamool Congress, the main opposition parties in West Bengal, are set to contest 81 civic body elections in the state separately.
They fought together in the last Lok Shaba elections and dealt a blow to the ruling Left Front, winning 25 of the 42 seats in the state.
The Trinamool Congress, the dominant opposition party in West Bengal, offered the Congress 25 of the 141 seats in the election for the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) to be held next month. The Congress had demanded at least 51 seats, in which its candidates had either won or lost by a narrow margin in 2005.
As they failed to agree on sharing seats, the Trinamool Congress on Wednesday announced its list of 116 candidates and the Congress on Thursday said it was going to field candidates in at least 85 seats.
Seat-sharing row: Railway minister and Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee after a cabinet meeting in New Delhi on Thursday. Vijay Kumar Joshi/PTI
Nirbed Roy, Congress leader and the party’s Kolkata district president, said “despite being flexible”, the talks with the Trinamool Congress had failed. The Congress had asked for 21 seats from which its candidates had won in 2005, and 30 more, where its candidates trailed only the winning Left Front candidate.
“But what the Trinamool Congress was offering was only seats where opposition candidates had lost by huge margins—by 9,000-19,000 votes,” Roy said. “It would have been extremely embarrassing to agree to the Trinamool Congress’ offer.”
In 2005, the Left parties led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) had won 52% of the votes in the election for KMC, followed by the Trinamool Congress, which won 25%, and the Congress, 16%. A three-way contest will only favour Left Front candidates.
Not just for the KMC election, there are serious differences between the two parties on seat sharing in other districts such as Hooghly, North 24 Parganas, Nadia and Murshidabad.
However, despite the West Bengal unit of Congress saying they will not join hands with the Trinamool Congress, the national leadership of both the parties are still in talks for a possible alliance at least for the Kolkata Municipal Corporation.