West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee president (WBPCC) Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury has been one of the most vocal advocates of an electoral alliance between the Left parties and the Congress. The five-time Congress MP from Behrampore in Murshidabad district and also the leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha has been projecting the Left and the Congress as the ‘third alternative’ to the people of West Bengal in a highly polarised electoral contest between ruling Trinamool Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) scheduled next year.
Reacting to the recent electoral outcome in Bihar and the remarks made by Communist Party of India (Marxist Leninist ) general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya, Mr. Chowdhury said the ground realities in Bengal and Bihar were very different. Mr. Bhattacharya has recently said that “any subservience to the Congress will be suicidal to Left parties in Bengal.”
“Dipankar babu should appreciate that the ground realities in West Bengal are different from Bihar. The Left parties here have a baggage of running the State for 34 years,” Mr. Chowdhury told The Hindu.
The Congress leader said that in the 2016 Assembly election, the Congress contested nearly 90 seats and won 44 whereas the Left parties, which contested more than 200 seats, won only 32 seats. West Bengal has 294 seats in the State Assembly and since the Congress won more seats than the Left, the Leader of the Opposition in Bengal Assembly, Abdul Mannan, is a Congress legislator.
In 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress leader said that the party won two seats whereas the Left parties drew a blank. “In fact, on all but one seat, Left Front candidates had lost their deposits,” Mr. Chowdhury said. After the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, a section of the leadership of the Left parties made public comments that the Congress supporters did not vote for them while the Left supporters voted in favour of the Congress candidates.
The Congress leader also added that unlike Left parties which always were in two minds, the Congress had been committed to the electoral understanding with the Left. “Our topmost leadership Soniaji and Rahulji have campaigned for the Left candidates. This we cannot say for Left leaders like Prakash Karat,” he added.
Mr. Chowdhury said the Congress had been committed to the alliance from the start as the party felt that it would provide a credible third alternative to the people of West Bengal.
“In the next year’s Assembly polls, the Left and Congress will give a tough fight to the Trinamool Congress. Ours in not just an electoral alternative but also an ideological alternative than is contrary to the competitive communalism of the Trinamool and the BJP,” he said. Other than organising joint political movements, the Congress and the Left have also shown good floor coordination in the West Bengal State Assembly against the ruling Trinamool Congress.
Over the past few weeks, the Bengal Congress president has also been making appeals on social media urging former Congress workers to return to the party. “ I appeal to all those who have left the Congress to return. The party will try to give them the respect they deserve,” Mr. Chowdhury has said. It was the workers of Congress that had proved to be backbone of the Trinamool Congress, he said.