April 17, 2021

Sambaad Patra

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West Bengal elections: Congress keeps post-poll option with TMC open – Times of India

2 min read

KOLKATA: Bengal Congress president and long-time Mamata Banerjee baiter Adhir Chowdhury has refused to shut out the “possibility” of a post-poll tie-up between the Congress-Left-Indian Secular Front alliance and Trinamool Congress.
“Politics is the art of the possible,” Chowdhury said on Wednesday, quoting Bismarck, when asked whether Congress would support CM Mamata if her party fell short of a majority in the assembly polls. “This is a hypothetical question. The Sanjukta Morcha aims to hold office on its own. I don’t know now who will support our Sanjukta Morcha after the poll. We don’t know where Mamata Banerjee will go if she loses. She may support the Sanjukta Morcha in forming a government. Or she may approach the Sanjukta Morcha for support,” he said.
Congress Malda (South) MP and former party stalwart ABA Gani Khan Chowdhury’s brother, AH Khan Chowdhury, who is known for his proximity to the Gandhi family, has already advocated Congress’s support to Trinamool if the latter does not reach the halfway mark in the 294-member assembly.
A section of state Congress leaders said Chowdhury’s comment could have been aimed at the party’s minority vote base in north and central Bengal. He is possibly sending out the message that Congress would do everything possible to keep BJP out of office in Bengal. “Congress is trying to keep the Sanjukta Morcha relevant there when many voters feel that the Left-Congress force is now marginalised with the BJP-Trinamool binary at work,” a Congress functionary from south Bengal said, adding that this line might not work in south Bengal.
Congress is focused on the 54 seats in north Bengal and the 22 assembly seats in Murshidabad, but faces stiff competition from Trinamool, Furfura cleric Abbas Siddique’s Indian Secular Front (where there has been no unanimity among the two Sanjukta Morcha partners) and Asaduddin Owasi’s AIMIM.
Behrampore MP Chowdhury himself was behind the Trinamool candidate in four of the seven assembly segments in the 2019 LS poll, indicating a shift of minority votes from Congress to Trinamool. Chowdhury’s victory was shaped by the huge lead he got from the Behrampore assembly segment (that has a substantial Hindu population). BJP’s advances in Behrampore and the shift in Muslim voters’ loyalties might be behind Chowdhury’s message to TMC and minority voters, Congress insiders said.

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