The INDI Alliance's seat-sharing talks faced another setback on Thursday (11 January) as Trinamool Congress (TMC) has reportedly indicated that they wouldn't meet the Congress' five-member national alliance committee, which is responsible for negotiating seat-sharing agreements with other parties in the Opposition bloc.
The Congress's negotiation panel, including Ashok Gehlot, Bhupesh Baghel, Mukul Wasnik, Salman Khurshid, and Mohan Prakash, has already completed one round of discussions with several parties, including the Samajwadi Party (SP), Shiv Sena (UBT), NCP, AAP, and RJD.
Trinamool Congress proposed giving the Malda Dakshin and Baharampur seats to Congress, which currently holds these seats, Indian Express reported citing TMC sources.
Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, the West Bengal Congress president, has already declined the TMC's offer. He stated that Congress had independently won these seats in 2019, competing against both TMC and BJP, and does not require any "grace or generosity" from Mamata Banerjee to secure victories in these constituencies.
“I can fight it alone against Banerjee and the BJP because I have proved it. My colleague and I can fight in both the seats on our own. We don’t require any grace from Banerjee to retain the two seats,” Chowdhury had said earlier this week, IE reported.
The TMC's refusal to engage in discussions with the Congress panel suggests a firm stance against conceding additional seats to Congress.
“We have offered them two seats. The Congress got over 30 per cent votes in only two of the 42 seats in Bengal. How can they claim more seats? If the top Congress leadership speaks to Mamata Banerjee directly, maybe she will concede one more seat. So there is no point in meeting the Congress alliance committee. Our offer is very clear,” a senior TMC leader was quoted as saying by IE.
The Congress, however, is laying claim to several other seats, including Raiganj, Malda Uttar, Jangipur, and Murshidabad.
However, TMC's reluctance to enter negotiations casts doubt on any potential seat-sharing alliance.
Although the Congress alliance committee reached out to TMC, the latter reportedly showed no interest in participating in the talks.
Meanwhile, the Left has made it clear that they will not form an alliance with the TMC.
The Congress national alliance committee is likely to hold its second meeting with AAP and SP leaders on Friday (12 January) and also meet Janata Dal (United) representatives.
Kuldeep is Senior Editor (Newsroom) at Swarajya. He tweets at @kaydnegi.
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