KOLKATA: The decision of Congress and CPM to contest the West Bengal byelections alone in two Lok Sabha and one Vidhan Sabha seats, slated on November 19 is likely to split opposition votes further and lubricate the path for Trinamool Congress’s victory.
Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee president and Murshidabad MP Adhir Ranjan Choudhury said, "Though we are worried about splitting of anti-Trinamool votes, but have not yet received any offer of alliance from CPM."
With this, the three seats will see a four-cornered fight in Tamluk and Coochbehar Lok Sabha and Manteswar Vidhan Sabha seats with BJP also testing its strength.
The CPM-Congress alliance had failed to deliver results in Assembly elections earlier this year, with the incumbent Trinamool Congress increasing its tally from 184 to 211 in the 294 seat Assembly.
"TMC has gained strength in North Bengal, even 'taken over' Cooch Behar Zilla Parishad, decimating the Forward Bloc stronghold. And Tamluk has been a traditional stronghold of the Adhikari family. It would be a cakewalk for Trinamool in the Lok Sabha seats. Manteswar in politically-restive northern Burdwan may see violence, clashes and tough fight," a political observer told Express.
Tamluk MP Suvendu Adhikari was made Transport minister in WB chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s cabinet after he won from Nandigram constituency in this year's Assembly elections. Coochbehar Trinamool MP 67-year-old Renuka Sinha had died of heart attack on August 17.
This necessitated the conduct of byelections in these two constituencies.
Of the 17 gram panchayats under Manteswar Vidhan Sabha constituency, 11 are controlled by CPM and 6 by Trinamool Congress. However, CPM lost the seat after four decades in this year's Assembly polls when Sajal Panja of Trinamool won by just 716 votes. However, he died a month ago due to heart attack. The area has witnessed pitched battles between the two rivals TMC and CPM for control of area.
Four of seven national parties in Bengal byelections fray
For the first time in recent history, four of the total seven national parties of the country would fight it out in the two Lok Sabha and one Vidhan Sabha seats on November 19.
Along with CPM, Congress and BJP, Trinamool Congress will be the fourth national party to fight in the elections. The former regional party was accorded 'national party status' on September 2 by the Election Commission of India (ECI) after it satisfied the conditions required to be recognised as state parties, in the four states.
Trinamool Congress is a recognised state party in West Bengal, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Tripura.