The Congress on Monday made no bones about its ambition to increase its “political space” in West Bengal but at the same ruled out any “hitch” with its alliance partner Trinamool Congress over seat sharing in the poll-bound state.
“There is no hitch....every political party wants to increase its political space,” party spokesperson Manish Tewari said in response to questions on delay in announcement of seat-sharing by both parties even as the ruling CPI (M) declared its candidates on Sunday.
Mr. Tewari at the same indicated that hard bargaining will continue between the two parties till the last moment before a formal announcement is made.
He said that negotiations are done on a seat-to-seat basis and different parties in alliance naturally have different perceptions on each seat, which take time to settle down.
Sources, however, indicated that the difference over the number of seats has now narrowed down to just four or five seats and Congress could now be getting 68 seats.
Senior leaders of both the parties had a series of meetings on Sunday to thrash out the differences with Union Ministers from Trinamool Congress Mukul Roy and Sultan Ahmed holding deliberations with Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Congress Working Committee in-charge for West Bengal Shakeel Ahmed among others.
Sources said that Congress, which had started with a demand of nearly 100 seats, was finally agreeable to be contesting 70 plus seats, while Trinamool Congress increased its offer from 45 to 64 seats during various rounds of negotiations.
Pranab Mukherjee is likely to visit West Bengal in a day or two for final round talks with Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, where both leaders can jointly announce seat sharing.