Leaders of the ruling TMC in West Bengal on Wednesday blamed the Congress for its decision to fight the Lok Sabha elections on its own, maintaining that it was making unreasonable demands in terms of seats and was giving priority to the CPI(M) in the state and at INDIA bloc meetings.
TMC chairperson Mamata Banerjee, also the chief minister of West Bengal, announced in the afternoon that her party has decided to fight the upcoming Lok Sabha polls on its own.
A senior TMC leader claimed that the Congress was lacking seriousness about the alliance.
”We were serious about the INDIA alliance, but the Congress from the very beginning was behaving as if the INDIA alliance was their entity,” the TMC leader told PTI, shedding light on why the alliance was called off.
He said that the TMC offered two seats to the Congress, based on its 2019 performance, but it demanded 10-12 seats in which it got less than 3 percent votes.
The Congress won two — Maldaha Dakshin and Baharampur — of the state’s 42 Lok Sabha seats in 2019, recording an overall vote share of 5.97 percent in West Bengal. In the 2021 assembly elections, it drew a blank with a vote share of 2.9 per cent.
The TMC leader emphasised that the initial understanding at the India Bloc meetings was a 1:1 fight against the BJP.
”But the Congress was unwilling to follow the formula. They were not ready to share seats where they are strong, but want seats from regional parties from the states where they don’t have any presence,” he said.
The TMC was reportedly seeking to field its candidate in one of the two Lok Sabha seats in Meghalaya in understanding with the Congress.
The TMC leader said that despite Banerjee stating in the December meeting of the India bloc that the seat-sharing arrangement must be finalised by the end of 2023, the Congress delayed. ”Had the discussions been fruitful, we could have given them one-two more seat, but they were just adamant. They (state Congress) kept on abusing us. Despite the Congress high command being informed about the insults, it did nothing,” another TMC leader said.
A third TMC leader PTI spoke to criticised the Congress for giving undue importance to CPI(M) at India Bloc meetings and in West Bengal.
”Be it the INDIA bloc meetings or West Bengal, the Congress is obsessed with the CPI(M) for reasons best known to them. We will not work as per the instructions of the CPI(M), with whom we had fought for three decades,” he said.
Banerjee had on Monday accused the CPI(M) of trying to control the opposition bloc’s agenda.
The CPI(M), Congress and the TMC are part of the 28-party INDIA bloc. In West Bengal, the CPI(M) and Congress are opposed to the TMC and BJP.
The CPI(M) and Congress had contested the 2016 and 2021 assembly polls in West Bengal, in an alliance.
The TMC had allied with the Congress in the 2001 assembly polls, the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, and the 2011 assembly polls, leading to the ousting of the CPI (M)-led Left Front government of 34 years.