Jolted by the Trinamool Congress's unilateral decision to announce a candidate list for the upcoming Assembly polls in West Bengal here on Friday, the Congress appeared miffed and said that the step was taken in unnecessary haste.
“In an alliance, it is essential to reach an agreement among the partners before a declaration of seats is done by either of the parties. The Congress has been insisting that it needs a little more time,” said Shakeel Ahmed, AICC in-charge of party affairs in West Bengal.
While the Congress did not reject outright the offer of 64 seats made by the Trinamool, the State's Election Committee met and drafted a list of 90 candidates during the day to be submitted to the Congress's Screening Committee.
It is expected that a decision on whether to go ahead with the alliance by accepting the 64 seats will be taken by the Congress before the Monday deadline given by Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who is abroad at present, is likely to return on Sunday night.
The Congress national leadership expressed shock at the decision taken by the Trinamool, but maintained that they could not control the actions of another political party.
In the last round of discussions held between Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Ms. Banerjee on Tuesday evening, where senior leaders of both parties were also present, it was indicated that further talks would be held on the seat-sharing arrangement.
Some reports that emerged late on Thursday night — that the Congress high command had given its assent to the proposal given by Ms. Banerjee — were denied by the Congress.
The party's State leadership explicitly stated that the national leadership had not informed them of any “green signal” or assurance given to Ms. Banerjee. However, it said that the discussions, which have been inconclusive so far, are continuing, and expressed hope that given some more time, the alliance would work out.
“There will be an alliance,” said West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee president Manas Bhunia.
He added that the candidate list announced by Ms. Banerjee was not the last and final word on the matter as “there is no last word in a democracy.”
Dr. Bhunia pointed out that the first day for the filing of nomination papers for the first phase of elections on April 18 was only six days away, and the last day was March 31.
“We are hopeful that we have the time and the matter will be sorted out,” he said.
Keywords: West Bengal polls