The electoral alliance between Congress and CPI(M) — which was formed before the Assembly election in May — is over after both parties decided to fight the by-elections separately.
By-elections will take place in three constituencies. Two seats fell vacant after Renuka Sinha, Trinamool Congress Lok Sabha MP from Cooch Behar, and Sajal Panja, TMC MLA from Manteswar Assembly constituency, died. Suvendu Adhikari, the party’s MP from Tamluk resigned and was elected as MLA from Nandigram in the 2016 Assembly election and is now the Transport minister. The bypolls will be held on November 19 and results will be out on November 22.
Adhir Chowdhury, one of the architects Congress-CPI(M) alliance, said Congress would fight separately in the bypolls. Names of the candidates have been sent to All India Congress Committee for approval.
The two parties, along with a section of the press, had projected that the alliance would come to power.
A vernacular television channel had stated 48 hours before the results were announced that Surya Kanta Misra would be the next Chief Minister.
However, their hopes were shattered with CPI(M) bagging only 28 seats, their lowest tally since 1972. Left Front allies Revolutionary Socialist Party, Forward Bloc and CPI won three, two and one seats, respectively. The Congress won 44 seats. Adding salt to their wounds is the fact that one CPI(M) MLA and six Congress legislators, including Manas Bhunia, are now a part of TMC.
Both the parties had gone out of their way to keep the alliance intact. The state CPI(M) received a a stricture from the Politburo which made a statement saying that the “alliance was not in consonance with the decision of the Central committee”.
The Congress had wanted Sujan Chakraborty to become the Chairman of Public Accounts Committee in the Assembly, a post usually given to the largest opposition party. However, Bhunia was elected the Chairman, straining his relationship with other Congress MLAs.
Chowdhury, however, refused to divulge why the two parties separated. “We have sent names to the Congress High command and are waiting for their nod,” he maintained.
The alliance did not go well with a majority of the workers of both parties. Surya Kanta Misra, in an article published in the CPI(M) mouthpiece had held the “untimely and hurried” alliance responsible for the debacle.
Political experts said both parties were likely to do badly in the by-election because after the Assembly election results were out none of them tried to improve their organisation and instead began criticising TMC on issues where the inefficiency and poor performance of CPI(M) for three decades is well known.