Manas Bhunia welcomes Mamata's call for ‘grand alliance'

The West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee (WBPCC) launched a “front,” comprising some smaller parties in the State, at a convention here on Tuesday.

WBPCC president Manas Bhunia, however, welcomed the call for “a grand alliance” by Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee at a rally on Sunday.

Launching the “front against a front,” Dr. Bhunia said that the only way the Left Front could be ousted from power was by a front comprising all the secular parties opposed to the Communist Party of India (Marxist).

“In the past we were not successful in creating an effective front, but this time we have learnt from our experiences,” he said.

The Congress hopes that the front — comprising the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS), led by the former CPI(M) leader Saifuddin Choudhury, the People's Democratic Conference of India (PDCI), led by Siddiqullah Chowdhury, the Indian Union Muslim League and the Republican Party of India — will enable it to woo the crucial minority vote in the coming elections. The shift in the minority vote away from the Left Front is cited as one of the major reasons for the electoral reverses suffered by the Left parties in the recent polls.

While the PDS and the PDCI both had warm relations with the Trinamool Congress, both Saifuddin Choudhury and Siddiqullah Chowdhury made veiled references to the alleged links between Ms. Banerjee's party and the Maoists — comments that may hamper the prospects of the “grand alliance.”

Double role

There were reports, Sidiqullah Choudhury had said, of those who held the party flag by day and worked with the Maoists by night.

“There is no question of allying with those who have links with the Maoists. The alliance has to be free of Maoists. This alliance cannot be formed on the basis of opportunism,” Saifuddin Choudhury said.

Dr. Bhunia, however, sought to ease the situation by claiming that Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had failed to furnish details, when asked to do so in the Assembly, of the leaders and political parties that allegedly had links with the Maoists.

“There is a cycle of violence and counter-violence which creates competitive violence. The CPI(M) indulges in violence, which is countered by the Maoists. There is a need to end this cycle of violence and Mamata Banerjee will provide the leadership in this battle,” he said.