New Delhi: The central leadership of Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPM is set to discuss the forging of an electoral understanding with the Congress for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in West Bengal, at its politburo meeting in New Delhi on Wednesday.

A majority of the members of the West Bengal unit of the CPM last month argued in favour of a seat sharing arrangement with the Congress, although the two parties used to be bitter rivals in the state.

The issue will further be discussed in a meeting of the central committee, the highest decision making body of the party, early next month.

The upcoming meetings will also include discussions on the CPM’s strategy for the assembly elections in Telangana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram.

The move is an attempt to counter the Trinamool Congress (TMC), led by West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, and also to stop the growth of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the state.

The CPM has faced a divide in the past over the issue of an electoral alliance or understanding with the Congress.

At the party congress in April, the CPM charted out a strategy to satisfy both sections of opinion.

It rejected an electoral alliance but kept the door open for an “understanding" with secular opposition parties, including the Congress.

Senior CPM leaders say that political alliances and understandings for each state will have to be dealt differently ahead of the 2019 general election as the party has been facing an electoral decline in recent years.

In West Bengal, the party is looking at ways to counter the ruling TMC and the BJP.

“We will look at the seats where the CPM can benefit from such an understanding. District units are preparing a list of seats as well. This will be presented to the central leadership of the party to decide the future course of action," said a senior CPM leader, who did not want to be named.

“It is very important for the party to look at relationships with other parties on a state-wise level. We have to look at joining hands with other political parties. In West Bengal, we have been faced with a steady electoral decline and must look at ways to reverse that," said the leader.

The CPM and the Congress party had a seat sharing arrangement for the West Bengal assembly elections in 2016.

Senior leaders of the party raised concerns over such an arrangement.

West Bengal was once a bastion of the left, where they ruled for 34 consecutive years before losing out to the TMC in 2011.

In the 2014 general election, the CPM managed to win just two of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in the state, while the Congress won four seats and the TMC 34.

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