CPI(M) announces candidate list in Bengal, leaves out four seats won by the Congress

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) today made an unprecedented move by declaring its list of candidates from West Bengal for the upcoming general elections while leaving out the four seats won by the Congress in 2014. The party has not fielded candidates from Malda Uttar, Malda Dakshin, Jangipur and Baharampur as they had been won the Congress in the 2014 general elections.

It was clear that despite the Congress not following the terms and conditions of the alliance with the CPI(M), the latter was not going to tread the same path.

It was decided earlier this month in the CPI(M) central committee meeting that candidates from these two parties won’t be pitted against each other to prevent the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Trinamool Congress from gaining in West Bengal. As such, the CPI(M) did not announce its candidate list for three to four days after the Election Commission of India (ECI) announced the poll dates because talks were continuing with the Congress. The CPI(M) declared the names of 25 candidates last Friday barring the four seats won by the Congress last time. Neither did the party announce candidates for 13 other constituencies, as the Congress were to field candidates from here.

However, putting their alliance with the Left to risk, the Congress leadership announced its list of 11 candidates on Monday which, surprisingly included the Ranigunj that had been won by the CPI(M)’s Mohd Salim in 2014. This means that despite the alliance being a clearly declared policy of both parties, the CPI(M) and the Congress will still fight against each other from the Raigunj seat.

Today, however, when the CPI(M) announced the names of 13 more candidates, the seats won by the Congress in 2014 were left out, deliberately to communicate a clear message to the Congress high-command.

Meanwhile, in Tamil Nadu, Bihar and Maharashtra – the CPIM has entered into pre-poll alliances with some of the other allies of the Congress like the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD). The party has therefore not fielded candidates in some seats in those three states to consolidate the position of a joint Opposition to the BJP.

The CPI(M) leadership has been asking that if their party is prepared to sacrifice seats to stop the BJP, whom is the Congress trying to “help” by fielding candidates in constituencies which were won by the CPI(M) in the last general polls?

In this context, the party’s politburo member and parliamentarian from Ranigunj – Md. Salim had alleged on Monday that the Congress is participating in a conspiracy of brokerage to facilitate the BJP and has therefore dashed the prospects of seat-sharing with the CPIM in West Bengal.

However, the manner in which the CPI(M) has chosen to not field candidates in the four seats won by the Congress in 2014 clearly shifts the onus of response to the Sonia-Rahul leadership in Delhi. Whether the Congress high-command will accept this gesture of goodwill extended by the CPIM or remain adamant in their position of fighting independently and allow a four-pronged battle that will ultimately help the BJP, remains to be seen.

CPI(M) leader Biman Bose declared the list of candidates at Alimuddin Street earlier today. Among some of the important candidates are Kaninika Ghosh from North Kolkata, Gargi Chattopadyay from Barrackpore, Gouranga Chattopadyay from Asansol, Amiya Patra from Bakura, Ram Chandra Dome from Bolpur, Sumitro Adhikari from Howrah, Tirthankar Ray from Serampore and Santanu Jha from Krishnagar.

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