KOLKATA: The West Bengal Congress wants to support an independent candidate backed by it and the Left Front for the upcoming Rajya Sabha elections in the state to contain the growth of the BJP.
The proposal appears to have gone down well with the CPI(M), which has termed it "reasonable", although the party is yet to officially take a call on it.
The state Congress was willing to support CPI(M) if the party fields its former general secretary Sitaram Yechury.
"If we want to stop the BJP in the state, the Left and Congress should fight together. We feel that in the upcoming Rajya Sabha polls, we should put up an independent candidate for the fifth seat, which will be supported both by Congress and the Left Front," state Congress president Adhir Chowdhury said.
He was speaking after a meeting with Congress MLAs.
Claiming that the break up of Left Front-Congress alliance in the state has helped BJP gain momentum, Chowdhury said the Congress is also open to supporting the CPI(M), provided its candidate is veteran leader Sitaram Yechury.
The elections for five Rajya seats from West Bengal will be held on March 23.
Of the five seats, four are presently held by the Trinamool Congress and one by the CPI(M).
But with the reduced strength of the Left Front in the Assembly, the CPI(M) is not in a position to send its candidate to the upper house of Parliament on its own.
It has to fall back on the Congress to get its candidate elected.
Handicapped by its reduced strength in the floor of the Assembly and inability to send a leader to Rajya Sabha on its own, the Bengal CPI(M) is on a sticky pitch to seek the support of the Congress, violating the party line.
Left Front legislative party leader Sujan Chakraborty termed Chowdhury's proposal for an independent candidate as "reasonable".
"The idea of Left and Congress supported an independent candidate is reasonable. But we are yet to take a final call on this issue of Rajya Sabha polls," Chakraborty told PTI.
Various CPI(M) leaders, who spoke to PTI on the condition of anonymity, conceded that the tussle between the party line and lack of numbers in the Assembly has landed the party state unit into a precarious situation.
Congress MLA and Leader of opposition Abdul Mannan, however, is against pitching any independent candidate and wants Congress to field its own candidate as the "party can not afford to have the luxury of fielding an independent candidate in the present situation".
"In most cases, we have seen independent candidate doesn't play the role that is expected of them. A party candidate means he has to abide by the decisions of the party and we need a political person who can take up the issues against the BJP government," he said.