New Delhi: Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi during a meeting with partymen from West Bengal on Monday conceded that it was "not a wise decision" to contest so few seats in the 2011 assembly elections in alliance with Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress.
At the meeting with a delegation of the West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee, Gandhi asked all the leaders if the Trinamool would have won the 2011 elections without the Congress's support. Everyone present replied "no".
"Following this, the Congress vice president conceded that the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress won that elections at the cost of the Congress and it was not a wise decision to contest the elections with so few seats (65)," said West Bengal Congress spokesperson Omprakash Mishra.
The majority of the delegation members after meeting Gandhi expressed their willingness for an alliance with the Left Front for the upcoming assembly polls.
According to one of the members, almost everyone was against tying up with the Trinamool Congress. C.P. Joshi, general secretary in charge of party affairs in West Bengal, was also present in the meeting.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi will take a final call on a possible alliance.
"We had a long discussion with our vice president Rahul Gandhi ji. I must appreciate that Rahul Gandhi ji gave us a patient hearing," Congress's Bengal unit chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury told media persons.
"He (Gandhi) listened to us with rapt attention, although everyone present there expressed independent views. Rahul ji has assured us that all the views expressed will be taken into account. After having a threadbare discussion with Sonia ji, we will be sitting together again and at that time, the views of the Congress party will be announced," he said.
On the possibility of an alliance with the Left Front, he said: "I cannot say that an alliance between the Congress and CPI-M has been done."
"Rahul Gandhi assured us that in consultation with Sonia Gandhi, he will be able to conclude the chapter of alliance, either yes or no."
Chowdhury is believed to be among those leaders who are of the view that an alliance with the Left Front was the only way to challenge the ruling Trinamool in Bengal.
"Everybody expressed their views in the meeting. There were only few of them who said that the Congress should go alone in the polls," Chowdhury told IANS.
Meanwhile, Omprakash Mishra, who has been advocating a tie-up with the Left Front, said: "We hope that decisions on seat-sharing adjustments with the Left will be finalised soon."
"We had a good meeting with Rahul ji and it was an interactive discussion. It was very democratic and transparent," he added.
"Everyone expressed their views and almost everybody pitched in for seat-sharing adjustments with the Left. Not a single member was in support of an alliance with the Trinamool Congress. Only two of them wanted that the Congress should contest the elections alone and (former state Congress chief) Manas Bhunia was one of them," Mishra told IANS.
"To this, most of us gave an explanation that if we go alone, then we will get only 15-16 seats," Mishra added.
Asked about Rahul Gandhi's reaction, Mishra said: "Rahul Gandhi ji said he was yet to get a complete picture of the situation and only after discussions with Congress president Sonia ji, he will be able to come to a conclusion."
"I raised the issue of the 2019 general elections. I told Rahul ji that the Trinamool Congress must be defeated in the 2016 assembly elections in West Bengal to thwart their chances of winning the elections in 2019. If Mamata Banerjee is defeated in 2016, then her overall influence and hold over the state will reduce. She is basically a soft ally of the BJP," said Mishra.
"It is imperative to defeat the TMC in order to save Bengal," he added.