In a significant political development, the Left and Congress leadership announced on Tuesday that they will accommodate Abbas Siddique’s newly floated political outfit Indian Secular Front in their secular democratic alliance for the upcoming Assembly polls.
The announcement was made after a meeting of senior leaders of both the political parties.
West Bengal Pradesh Congress Commitee president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said they were not announcing the number of seats they would leave for the ISF now. Mr. Chowdhury was joined by Left Front chairperson Biman Bose and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) State Secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra.
The Congress leader said the political situation in the State was changing rapidly and the Left-Congress alliance was fast gaining support and emerging as an important alternative. “Earlier it was projected to be a bipolar contest, but now we can say that it is going to be triangular contest,” Mr. Chowdhury said.
Leaderships of the Left and the Congress have been in talks with Mr. Siddique, cleric of the Furfura Sharif shrine in Hooghly, who floated the political outfit weeks ago. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) has urged Mr. Siddique not to have any truck with the All-India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) and its leader Asaduddin Owaisi. In the first week of Jnauary 2021, Mr. Owaisi had come to West Bengal and met Mr. Siddique at Furfura Sharif. Mr. Owaisi had then announced that he would follow in the footsteps of Mr. Siddique in Bengal.
Mr. Siddique has a considerable support base among the minority community that comprises 27.01% of the State’s population. In his recent public rallies, Mr Siddique had given adequate hints that he was ready to ally with the Left and the Congress.
Political observers in the State feel that Mr. Siddique’s arrival will strengthen the Congress-Left alliance. The Left and Congress had announced earlier that they had arrived at an understanding on 193 of the 294 seats in the State, but the equations are now likely to change.
Sources in both the Congress and Left parties said that they can allot 40 to 50 seats to ISF and other parties who are willing to join the alliance. Parties like Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) are also in talks with the Left and Congress leaderships.