Hinting at an unofficial alliance between his party and the CPI(M) in the upcoming Lok Sabha and Assembly by-polls in West Bengal, state Congress chief Adhir Chowdhury today said his party was yet to decide whether to contest the polls but would ensure that the division of the anti-TMC and anti-BJP votes did not happen. "We are yet to decide whether to contest the polls. Let the dates be announced, but we have not finalised anything yet. We will ensure that the TMC and the BJP do not get the benefit of division of opposition votes," he told reporters. By-elections will be held in the Cooch Behar and Tamluk Lok Sabha seats and in the Monteswar Assembly constituency. At Cooch Behar, the by-poll was necessitated by the death of TMC MP Renuka Sinha.
The by-poll to the Tamluk Lok Sabha seat was necessitated by TMC MP Suvendu Adhikari's win from the Nandigram Assembly seat. Adhikari had resigned as an MP before he joined the state Assembly. The by-poll in the Monteswar Assembly seat was occasioned by the death of MLA Sajal Panja. Left Front chairman Biman Bose had last week said that CPI(M)'s ally Forward Bloc would field a candidate in the Cooch Behar Lok Sabha seat and the CPI(M) would field its candidates in Tamluk Lok Sabha seat and Monteswar Assembly constituency. He had also made it clear that there had been no discussion about an alliance with the Congress and the Left Front would contest "on its own". According to Congress sources, the party leadership is against contesting the polls as it would help the TMC win the seats by ensuring a division of votes. Commenting on Chowdhury's statement, a senior CPI(M) leader said, "We welcome it. It is not possible to forge an official alliance, so if the Congress decides to back out, it will help us." The CPI(M)-led Left Front had forged an alliance with the Congress in West Bengal in the last state Assembly polls. The decision to forge an alliance with ideologically opposite Congress had raked up an inner-party debate within the CPI(M). Later, it was decided that the party would not go for an official alliance with the Congress but would continue to organise agitations and protest rallies together against the TMC and the BJP in the state.
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