KOLKATA: The TMC-Congress alliance is heading towards yet another face-off with the former mounting pressure on the Congress to withdraw its Rajya Sabha candidate.
Sources in the Congress told Express that the leadership in Delhi was trying to persuade the West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee (WBPCC) to withdraw from its candidature in the lone Rajya Sabha seat.
With the TMC refusing to back a Congress candidate, the party decided to field veteran politician and former MLA Abdul Mannan for the March 30 elections in West Bengal. However, the Congress leadership in Delhi does not want to antagonise Mamata Banerjee, who has already alleged the Congress of trying to break the alliance by fielding a candidate for the Rajya Sabha elections.
“There has been no discussion to withdraw our candidate, but yes, there is some pressure. There will be clarity on the issue by Thursday,” said WBPCC president Pradip Bhattacharya told Express. Shakeel Ahmed, AICC general secretary and incharge of West Bengal, and Pradip held a meeting in this regard in Delhi on Wednesday.
Party sources further said the Congress would need the TMC’s help in the upcoming Presidential and Vice-Presidential elections. Therefore, the Delhi leadership might urge the WBPCC to withdraw Mannan’s candidature. “The WBPCC is not in favour of withdrawing its candidature for the Rajya Sabha. But keeping an eye on future issues, we may have to give in,” said a Congress leader in West Bengal.
On the other hand, Mannan had been advised to plead his case with Didi in a bid to win the TMC’s support. The TMC has fielded four candidates for Rajya Sabha, including Mukul Roy. With 184 MLAs, it has the requisite numbers to send three candidates safely to the Upper House.