In a setback to the Congress, the Akhil Bhartiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad has decided to field candidates in seven assembly constituencies and support JMM in nine other seats in the Terai Dooars area of North Bengal.

Adivasi Vikas Parishad president John Berla told newsmen that at its meeting at Banarhat in Jalpaiguri district yesterday, the ABAVP decided to contest from six Schedule Tribe reserve seats - Kumargram, Madarihaat, Kalchini, Nagrakata, Mal and Phansideoa in Jalipaiguri and Darjeeling districts and one general seat at Chopra in North Dinajpur.

The Adivasi Vikas Parishad, he said, would contest on JMM’s bow and arrow symbol in the seven seats and support JMM candidates in nine seats in Terai and Dooars region.

The Adivasi Vikas Parishad had been in talks with the Congress over seat sharing.

Elaborating on the reasons for the seat-sharing talks not taking a final shape, Mr. Berla said the Adivasi Vikas Parishad at a discussion with Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee, PCC president Manas Bhuniya and MP Deepa Dasmunshi in Delhi on March 9 had demanded six seats from the Congress in Dooars and Terai belt.

Mr. Mukherjee told the delegation that nothing could be promised till the Trinamool Congress -Congress seat sharing deal was finalised.

As per the Trinamool-Congress seat-sharing arrangement, the Congress got three seats in the belt, leaving no scope for the Adivasi Vikas Parishad to get the seats of their choice, he said.

“The Adivasi Vikas Parishad is no more interested in Congress support but talking to small groups like Kamptapur People’s Party (Atul Roy group),” he said.