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TMC ready to go solo in Lok Sabha polls in Bengal if ‘due importance’ not given: Mamata

KOLKATA: Amid rumblings within the INDIA bloc in West Bengal over seat sharing, TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee on Friday asserted that her party is ready to independently contest all 42 Lok Sabha seats in the state if not given “due importance”.

Banerjee, also the chief minister, conveyed her stance during a closed-door organisational meeting of the party’s Murshidabad district unit – a region with a significant minority population, and traditionally seen as a Congress stronghold.

During the meeting, she urged party leaders to gear up for the electoral battle, emphasising the need for TMC’s triumph in all three Lok Sabha seats in the district.

In the 2019 elections, Congress had managed to retain only the Baharampur seat, secured by its five-time MP and state Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury.

“Our party supremo Mamata Banerjee clearly stated that the TMC is one of the most important partners of the INDIA bloc. But in Bengal, if RSP, CPI, CPI(M) are given more importance by excluding us, we will carve our own path, and preparations should be made to fight and win in all the 42 seats,” a senior TMC leader, requesting anonymity, said.

The CPI(M)-led Left Front, Congress and the TMC are part of the 28-party strong INDIA opposition bloc.

However, in West Bengal, the CPI(M) and Congress have aligned against the TMC and BJP.

Another TMC leader, requesting anonymity, said, “The party chief said that we need to make preparations to win all three Lok Sabha seats. When one of our MLAs, Humayun Kabir, pointed out that Adhir Chowdhury is a factor in the minority-dominated district, Banerjee declined to attach much importance to this assertion, saying TMC will taste success if it puts up a united fight.”

Fissures within the INDIA alliance have become evident, particularly between key allies, the Congress and TMC, regarding seat-sharing in West Bengal for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.

The TMC’s offer of two seats based on Congress’ 2019 Lok Sabha election result was deemed insufficient by the latter, escalating tension between the two parties.

Banerjee’s remarks come close on the heels of Chowdhury, a vocal TMC critic, asserting that the Congress wouldn’t “beg” for seats from the Trinamool Congress.

In the 2019 elections, the TMC secured 22 seats, Congress won two, and BJP bagged 18 seats in the state. Chowdhury, also the Congress leader in Lok Sabha, won the Baharampur seat, while Abu Hasem Khan Choudhury, a former Union minister, secured a third consecutive win from the Malda Dakshin seat.

The TMC boss, expressing confidence in an alliance between the TMC, Congress and the Left in West Bengal last November, had her proposal swiftly dismissed by arch-rival CPI (M) and criticised by some Congress leaders.

Days later, she accused the two parties of aligning with the BJP, affirming that the TMC would confront the saffron camp in West Bengal.

The TMC last week decided to abstain from an INDIA bloc virtual meeting, and emphasised the necessity for Congress to recognise its limitations in West Bengal and permit the ruling party to spearhead the state’s political battle.

The Trinamool Congress had previously allied with the Congress in the 2001 assembly polls, 2009 Lok Sabha elections, and the 2011 assembly polls, leading to the ousting of the CPI(M)-led Left Front government of 34 years. PTI PNT

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