2024 Lok Sabha polls | Trinamool, Congress spar over seat-sharing in West Bengal

Congress says offer is “humiliating”; TMC says it must “acknowledge the reality” of its “limitations” in West Bengal; Congress vote share less than 5% in the last poll

January 11, 2024 05:40 pm | Updated January 13, 2024 12:59 pm IST - NEW DELHI

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi. FIle

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi. FIle | Photo Credit: K. Murali Kumar

The Trinamool Congress is willing to concede only two seats in West Bengal for its INDIA bloc ally, the Congress, to contest in the upcoming Lok Sabha election. Declining to participate in seat-sharing formula talks with the Congress’ National Alliance Committee, the TMC says it has already informed its ally about the “number of seats” it is willing to share and the “methodology” based on which it made the decision.

A senior Trinamool MP familiar with developments in the alliance said: “We have conveyed the methodology of how it should proceed. We wish the Congress leadership to acknowledge the reality and their limitations in Bengal. We have been very patient and very gracious in spite of many statements flying around.”  

Performance-based formula

The TMC wants the seat-sharing formula to be based on parties’ performance in the 2019 Lok Sabha election and in the last West Bengal Assembly election. The Congress, TMC sources said, garnered a vote share of less than 5% in the State’s 39 Lok Sabha seats. The Congress has been arguing that two seats is a “humiliating” figure. The ball is now in TMC chief Mamata Banerjee’s court on whether to concede an extra seat.

“We will wait till they can make up their mind. But if they don’t agree, then we shall go ahead and contest all 42 seats,” the Trinamool MP said. 

The TMC’s generosity in West Bengal will also depend on the Congress returning the favour in Meghalaya and Assam. The TMC has asked for one seat in Meghalaya and wants four seats in Assam, though it has not yet made its demand, claiming that it is trying to trim its expectations, in keeping with the INDIA spirit. “We also have an aspirant for one seat in Goa. But we can’t allow our aspirations to come in the way of the INDIA’s success,” the MP added. 

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