The Congress and Left Front are likely to contest together the West Bengal assembly polls next year, indicated Congress’s recently appointed state unit chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury on Thursday (September 10).
Asserting that the CPI-led Left Front was Congress’s “natural ally”, he said his party is ready to forge an alliance with them to put up a “spirited” battle against the TMC and the BJP in the 2021 Assembly elections.
Chowdhury, known to be a bitter critic of TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee, contended that “TMC and BJP are two sides of the same coin,” and said the 2021 fight would be primarily between secularism and communalism.
“Secular ideals of Congress will ultimately defeat the communal rhetoric of BJP and TMC. Congress, in alliance with the Left parties, wants to put up a spirited battle against the misrule of the TMC,” said the Lok Sabha MP.
“Given the present political situation in the state, the Left Front is a natural ally of the Congress,” he told a press meet, his first after taking over as the West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee (WBPCC) president.
During Chowdhury’s earlier stint as PCC chief (2014-2018), Congress and Left Front had fought the 2016 elections together. However, the proposed Congress-CPI(M) alliance fell apart during the 2019 Lok Sabha polls as the parties were unable to reach an agreement on seat sharing.
“Yet again, I have been given the responsibility of the state unit before the assembly polls. We never wanted to lose political and poll understanding with CPI(M) and other Left parties. After the last elections, CPI(M) might have felt that it did not get the desired results by getting into an alliance with the Congress,” he said.
“This could be a reason why the Left decided to go it alone in the subsequent elections after 2016. The Congress, however, never thought so,” Chowdhury said.
The senior Congress leader said he would strive hard to strengthen the organisation in the state. “Once the coronavirus crisis is over, Congress will resume its fight against the misrule of the TMC government in West Bengal,” the five-time Lok Sabha MP said.
He urged defectors, who have joined opposition camps, to return to the party. “I call upon them to return to the grand old party. We will give them their due respect,” Chowdhury said.
Asked whether there is a chance of a Congress-TMC tie-up in the near future, he said, “CPI(M) is our natural ally as both of us are victims of political violence.”
According to state Congress sources, Chowdhury’s appointment as WBPCC chief reflects the mindset of the party high command, which is not ready to yield its political ground to the TMC, despite taking them along at the national level during the anti-BJP campaign.
“The party high command is very well aware how the TMC has politically sidelined the Congress in Bengal. So the decision to appoint Chowdhury clearly sends out a message there won’t be any alliance with the TMC in the state,” a senior Congress leader here explained.
Welcoming Chowdhury’s statement, the CPI (M) said that all secular and democratic forces should unite against the TMC and the BJP in the state.
“We welcome Adhir Chowdhury’s statement. We are confident that his appointment would further strengthen our alliance. The unity of the Congress and the Left is the need of the hour to protect the secular fabric of the state,” CPI (M) central committee member Sujan Chakraborty said.
The Trinamool Congress (TMC) and BJP, meanwhile, played down Chowdhury’s statements about forging an alliance with the Left Front. While TMC general secretary Partha Chatterjee said his party is not bothered by any kind of alliance (of the opposition), state BJP chief Dilip Ghosh said the alliance will fail this time too as it had in 2016.