KOLKATA: Ahead of the upcoming Assembly polls, Trinamool Congress MP Sudip Bandyopadhyay today claimed Congress President Sonia Gandhi has no news about a possible alliance between her party and the CPI(M)-led Left Front in West Bengal.
However, raising the pitch for alliance talks in the run up to the polls, WB Congress chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury issued a statement tonight asking all the democratic and secular forces to join hands.
Talking to reporters, Bandyopadhyay claimed, "While returning from New Delhi, I suddenly met Soniaji and asked her about a probable alliance... She instead asked me whether any such alliance was happening. She told me that no such news has reached her so far.
"It is apparent that such an alliance is not taking place. There is some campaign regarding seat adjustment at the state- level between the two parties, but as per my knowledge there is no alliance."
Later in the evening, Chowdhury issued a statement asking the democratic and secular forces to join hands in Bengal.
"I am inviting all the democratic and secular forces in Bengal to come together in order to preserve the democratic values and to establish the rule of law in the state," the statement said quoting Chowdhury.
Political observers said he was reiterating his earlier call for an alliance between the CPI(M)-led Left Front and other non-TMC, non-BJP forces in the state to take on the ruling TMC.
Senior CPI(M) leaders, including former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and party state secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra, have openly spoken in favour of an alliance with the Congress.
Congress had fought the 2011 Assembly elections -- that had seen Left Front rule come to an end in the state after 34 years -- in alliance with TMC.
But after TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee left UPA at the Centre in September 2012, Congress ministers resigned from the West Bengal Cabinet.
A team of senior state Congress leaders, including Chowdhury, Pradip Bhattacharya, Deepa Dasmunshi, Mausam Benazir Noor and Abhijit Mukherjee, met party Vice President Rahul Gandhi earlier this month.
In another development, West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee President Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury tonight reiterated the call to democratic and secular forces to join hands in the state.
A press statement quouted Chowdhury as saying, "I am inviting all the democratic and secular forces in Bengal to come together in order to preserve democratic values and to establish the rule of law in the state."