TMC, Congress start talking alliance for Bengal polls
Talks between the Congress and the Trinamool Congress have once again started with an eye on the possibility of stitching an alliance ahead of 2021, when West Bengal is scheduled to hold its Assembly elections. Both parties feel that an alliance is “inevitable” to check the rise of the Bharatiya Janata Party in the state. According to sources, senior TMC leaders and MPs Kalyan Banerjee and Sudip Bandopadhyay met Rahul Gandhi in New Delhi last week and discussed a possible tie-up between the two parties. The meeting was described by insiders as being “fruitful” and “positive”.
As a first step towards this alliance, Congress leaders have been asked to “go soft” on TMC chief and Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. The TMC too has decided that the party will stop its attacks on Congress workers and leaders from the state, sources said. Both Congress and TMC hope that their alliance will help check the rise of the BJP in Bengal. The BJP, which had just two seats from the state in 2014, won 18 Lok Sabha seats in May 2019 with a vote share of 40% and the TMC won 22 seats—down from its earlier 34 seats.
However, the state units of West Bengal Congress as well as the TMC remain divided on the issue of joining hands. While one section of the Congress believes that an alliance with the TMC is the need of the hour, for the party to stay relevant in Bengal, another section does not want to support the TMC, which has been “beating up Congress workers and causing harm to the party in the state for years”.