The Purulia and Basirhat Lok Sabha seats have now emerged as bones of contention in seat-adjustment talks between the Left Front and the Congress for the upcoming polls in West Bengal, though a senior Congress leader on Wednesday hoped the LF major CPI-M would not be averse to his party fighting from the two constituencies.
To facilitate the talks, the LF partners at a meeting on Wednesday decided to keep on hold their earlier decision to declare their candidates. However, the constituents failed to come to an agreement on conceding the seats sought by the Congress, as two of the partners took an adamant stand.
The Congress hoped the talks would succeed.
Earlier, the discussions had stalled over the Congress insistence to put up candidates in Raiganj and Murshidabad, the only two seats won by the CPI-M in the state in the 2014 Lok Sabha election.
The CPI-M, which has advocated a no-contest policy in the six seats -- Congress four, CPI-M two -- won by the two parties in the 2014 polls, has already announced that the LF would not be in fray in Baharampur, Jangipur, North Malda and South Malda constituencies that went to the Congress then.
However, Purulia presents a far more complex problem. The seat is contested by the AIFB -- a party rooted in anti-Congressism -- which has refused to even sit with the Congress for any talks on seat adjustments for any constituency in the state.
But a senior Congress leader dismissed the AIFB's objection.
"We will contest from Purulia. We are not bothered with what the AIFB says. It will be absolutely ok for us if the CPI-M is on the same page with us," he said.
In such a case, the Congress is hopeful of the CPI-M supporters casting their votes for its candidate, leaving the AIFB in the lurch.
Sources said on Tuesday, state CPI-M Secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra and party's state secretariat member Rabin Deb went to Bhattacharya's house for a fresh round of discussions. Earlier, state Congress President Somen Mitra had also taken part in the talks.
On Wednesday, the LF partners held detailed discussions on the emerging scenario, with only five days to go for issue of notification for the first phase of polls.
"The Congress is keen on fighting 17 seats, leaving 25 to the LF. But we have our compulsions. The LF partners RSP, AIFB and CPI are for contesting three seats each. We are for an independent candidate in Darjeeling. Also, a couple of other parties have sought seats from us.
"If we have to accommodate all of them, we need more seats. In such a scenario, we will propose to the Congress leadership that they settle for 13-15 seats," said a CPI-M source.
There was speculation that Congress leader Deepa Dasmunsi, peeved over the Congress agreeing to leave her old constituency Raiganj to the CPI-M, may be asked to fight from Malda North, but Bhattacharya denied any discussions on those lines.
"I don't know of any such discussions," he said.
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