Congress may strike deal with Mamata Banerjee in Bengal

After Sonia Gandhi has again formally taken up Congress leadership, the Party  has initiated informal talks with senior Trinamool Congress leaders to explore the possibility of a pact for the 2021 West Bengal Assembly elections so as to halt the march of the BJP in the state.

In the last week of the budget session of Parliament, former Congress president Rahul Gandhi spoke to Trinamool’s Lok Sabha chief whip Kalyan Banerjee for almost half an hour. In the course of the conversation, he asked Banerjee whom the TMC saw as its main enemy in the state. Gandhi also spoke about enhancing the coordination between the Congress and TMC.

However,  a final call will have to be taken by the top leadership of the party , TMC chief and West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee and Sonia Gandhi. The conversation between Rahul gandhi and Kalyan Banerjee came close on the heels of another informal talk between Trinamool’s Lok Sabha leader Sudip Bandopadhyay and former union minister P Chidambaram on the same issue, people familiar with the matter said on condition of anonymity.

The Congress and the Trinamool Congress entered into an alliance in 2009 for the Lok Sabha polls after the CPIM-led Left parties withdrew their support to the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government over the Indo-US nuclear deal. The parties also fought the 2011 assembly polls together but parted ways in 2013 over various issues.

In the last Lok Sabha polls, the Trinamool bagged 43.3% of the popular vote in the state while the BJP came a close second with 40.3% . The CPIM’s share slumped to 6.3% while the Congress got 5.6% votes. In terms of seats, the Trinamool’s tally reduced to 22 in 2019 from 34 in 2014 even as the BJP’s rose to 18 MPs as against just two in 2014. The Left couldn’t open its account and the Congress won two seats.

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