Kolkata: TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday criticised the Congress for causing delay in discussions for seat-sharing in West Bengal, citing “unjustified” demand for 10-12 Lok Sabha constituencies when her party was willing to share only two.
Banerjee, also the chief minister of West Bengal, conveyed the stance during a closed-door organisational meeting of the party’s unit of Birbhum, a district considered a stronghold of the TMC.
During the internal meeting, she urged party leaders to gear up for the electoral battle, emphasising the need for the TMC’s triumph in both the Lok Sabha seats from the district.
A senior TMC leader, preferring anonymity, shared insights of the meeting, and stated, “Our party supremo clearly said that we don’t need to think about seat-sharing talks with the Congress. She said that the party had offered two seats to them. But the Congress at times is demanding 10-12 seats.”
West Bengal has 42 Lok Sabha seats.
Party sources disclosed that Banerjee urged district leaders to prepare for fighting alone to win both the parliamentary seats from Birbhum.
“Mamata didi told us to prepare to fight in both the seats from the district,” the TMC leader said.
Banerjee’s remark at the party’s internal meeting comes a day after she, at a public meeting, batted for the idea of regional leaders spearheading the fight against the BJP in specific regions, suggesting that Congress can independently contest 300 Lok Sabha seats.
The CPI(M)-led Left Front, Congress and TMC are part of the 28-party opposition INDIA bloc.
However, in West Bengal, the CPI (M) and Congress have aligned against the TMC and the BJP.
Fissures within the INDIA bloc have come to the fore, particularly between its key allies, the Congress and the TMC, regarding seat-sharing for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls in West Bengal.
The TMC’s offer of two seats, based on the Congress’ 2019 Lok Sabha election performance, was deemed insufficient by the latter, escalating tension between the two parties.
Congress’ Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, a vocal TMC critic, has maintained that it wouldn’t “beg” for seats from Bengal’s ruling party.
In the 2019 elections, the TMC bagged 22 seats, Congress won two, and the BJP secured 18 in the state.
The Trinamool Congress had decided to abstain from a recent INDIA bloc virtual meeting and emphasised on the necessity for Congress to recognise its limitations in West Bengal and allow the ruling party to spearhead the state’s political battle.
The TMC had previously allied with the Congress in the 2001 assembly polls and the 2009 Lok Sabha elections.
The two parties again fought the 2011 assembly polls together, leading to the ousting of the CPI(M)-led Left Front government after 34 years.