Proposing "no mutual contest" for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in six seats currently held by Congress and the Left Front in West Bengal, the CPI(M) on Monday indicated its willingness for an understanding between the two political blocks in the state to consolidate anti-BJP votes. This comes in the backdrop of the state leadership of both the Congress and the CPI(M) in West Bengal pushing for a tactical tie-up, while the Left party's Kerala unit has been opposing any pact with the Congress.
Commenting on the development, CPIM General Secretary Sitaram Yechury said, "In West Bengal, the Central Committee had earlier decided that the CPI(M) will adopt suitable tactics to ensure the maximisation of the pooling of anti-BJP, anti-TMC votes."
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"In accordance with this, the CPI(M) proposes no mutual contest in the present six sitting Lok Sabha seats, currently held by Congress and the Left Front," Yechuri said. For rest of the seats, the Left Front in Bengal will decide on March 8, he added.
The decision on these six seats was taken at a Central Committee meeting of the party on March 3-4.
While it was not clear whether the proposal has already got support of the Congress party, sources said the party is unwilling to concede at least in two seats at present held by the Left Front -- Raiganj and Murshidabad, which were earlier known as traditional Congress bastions.
CPI (M) leader Mohammad Salim won Raiganj seat by around 1600 votes, while Badaruddoza Khan of CPI (M) had won in Murshidabad with a margin of around 18,000 votes in the 2014 general elections.
In April 2018, the Party Congress, the CPI-M's highest decision-making body, had said that defeating the BJP and its allies was the party's main goal, but had also said this had to be achieved without a political alliance with the Congress. However, it had kept that option open in Bengal to maximise pooling of anti-BJP and anti-TMC votes.
The two parties had a similar tactical understanding in the 2016 assembly polls.
In the last general election in 2014, the Left Front managed to win two seats - Raiganj and Murshidabad, both of which were earlier held by the Congress.
Congress had won four seats - Uttar Maldaha, Maldaha Dakshin, Baharampur and Jangipur.
Yechury also said that talks are being held in Bihar with the RJD for contesting Ujiarpur seat in Samastipur district while seat-sharing discussions were underway in Tamil Nadu with the DMK.
In Odisha, where assembly elections are likely to be held along with Lok Sabha polls, the CPI(M) will contest the Bhubaneswar Lok Sabha seat and a few assembly seats including, its sitting seat Bonnai.
Calling upon the people of Odisha to defeat the BJP, Yechuri said, "The CPI(M), along with other Left forces, will be working out the details particularly in the background of various struggles it has launched against the state government."
In Maharashtra, discussions are on with the NCP for contesting Dindori or Palghar seats where the CPI(M) independently polls around a lakh of vote each, he said.