Kolkata, Feb 22: Congress today demanded 98 seats from its coalition partner Trinamool Congress to contest in the upcoming West Bengal Assembly elections.
"Congress must have 98 seats to contest, leaving 196 seats for Trinamool Congress," state Congress chief Manas Bhuniya told a meeting here.
The equation is under a two-third, one-third formula which was formulated during the 2000 Lok Sabha polls, he said. Bhuniya, is among a section of state leaders, including party MP Deepa Dasmunshi, who are known for adopting a hardline stance on the issue of alliance with Trinamool Congress.
Bhuniya comments came days after Trinamool supreme Mamata Banerjee called for strengthening alliance with Congress.
"I welcome Banerjee's call. To make the alliance credible to the people, it must be based on joint movement," he said, while addressing a meeting with two smaller parties -- People's Democratic Conference of India and Party For Democratic Socialism -- with which state Congress had recently forged alliance.
The state Congress chief comments came when a section of party workers in Kolkata welcomed Mamata's call for an alliance with Congress. Former state Congress chief Pradip Bhattahcerjee said "A section of Congress leaders in the state may try to put a spanner in the process of alliance with Trinamool Congress.".
Bhuniya made it clear that Banerjee will lead the Congress and Trinamool Congress alliance. "Who can deny that she is the most popular leader of the state. It is she who
will lead the alliance." There was no word from Trinamool Congress with regard to Bhuniya's demand for 98 seats in the upcoming polls.
Banerjee's detractors including Deepa, who is the wife of former union minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi, had claimed that Congress had sacrificed a lot in seat-sharing in 2009 Lok Sabha election. The Congress had fought for 14 seats, while Trinamool Congress contested in 25 seats, leaving one seat for its ally SUCI.
Trinamool Congress won 19 Lok Sabha seats, Congress six and SUCI one. In the outgoing assembly, Congress has 19 MLAs and Trinamool 36.
Earlier, Bhuniya stressed the need for a "larger anti-Left Front alliance" before the assembly elections in West Bengal.
Three parties - Congress, PDCI and PDS - which had recently forged an alliance named United Secular Democratic Front (USDF) vowed to work together.The PDCI is backed by Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind and PDS is a breakaway group of CPI-M.
While addressing the meeting, PDS chief Saifuddin Chowdhury, a former CPI-M MP said, "There cannot be alliance with people who have links with Maoists." "If there is a change, there should not be any revenge against CPI-M," he said.
The PDCI leader Siddiqullah Chowdhury said the opposition alliance should be on fifty-fifty base in terms of seat sharing between Trinamool Congress and Congress-led front that include PDCI and PDS. PTI