Even as the Left Democratic Front (LDF) announced its candidates for the West Bengal Assembly elections, the Congress and the Trinamool Congress started their formal seat-sharing talks on Sunday. While an immediate solution eluded the two allies, the ice seems to be melting.

Soon after the Congress formally staked claim to its share of seats, TMC leaders rushed to Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee to resolve the impasse. TMC leaders and Union Ministers Mukul Roy and Sultan Ahmed spent about 15 minutes with Mr. Mukherjee.

The way may just have been paved for Mr. Mukherjee to go to Kolkata for settling the issue with TMC chief and Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee.

The ball is now in the court of the TMC, CWC member and West Bengal party affairs in-charge Shakeel Ahmed told The Hindu after formally handing to Mr. Roy and Mr. Ahmed the party's demand of seats it intends to contest in alliance with the TMC.

Mr. Ahmed was assisted by West Bengal PCC chief Manas Bhunia and State screening committee in-charge Janardan Pujari.

Testing the waters, the two parties formally exchanged their claims so as to extract as many seats as possible before sewing up an alliance . The Congress' stress is on cornering winnable seats and political pundits feel the TMC had mellowed down from its rigid stand.

After his meeting with the TMC leaders Mr. Mukherjee later held a discussion with his party's negotiating team headed by Mr. Ahmed.

Mr. Ahmed was however hopeful of the Congress forging an alliance with the TMC. “Our alliance is there and we are hopeful of continuing with it. Each party wants a good deal for itself and there is nothing wrong in seeking a larger share of seats.”