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CPM, Congress jointly field candidate for Maheshtala bypoll

Kolkata: Within a week after the Central Committee of CPI-M allowed not "alliance" but "understanding" with Congress in the recently concluded party congress in Hyderabad, the two parties are jointly fielding a candidate in Maheshtala Assembly by-election.
The seat fell vacant following the death of sitting MLA Kasturi Das. Das had defeated Shamik Lahiri of CPI-M in the 2016 Assembly election.
Trinamool Congress fielded Dulal Das, Kasturi's husband and chairman of Maheshtala Municipality. CPI-M has fielded Provat Chowdhury, after Lahiri refused to contest from the seat. Congress is not fielding any candidate.
Suryakanta Misra, CPI-M state secretary, had a discussion with Adhir Chowdhury on Tuesday and Congress decided to back CPI-M. BJP is yet to field its candidate.
CPI-M and Congress are desperately trying to hold each other's hand, as both the parties are suffering from massive erosion of support base. Sixty thousand CPI-M cadres did not renew their membership.
The total number of candidates fielded in the three-tier Panchayat by CPI-M and Congress is less than those fielded by BJP.
It may be recalled that the alliance between Congress and CPI-M had been a disaster in the 2016 Assembly election, with the CPI-M getting only 26 seats and Congress 44 seats in the 294 member Bengal Assembly.
CPI-M has no member in Rajya Sabha from Bengal and has only two Lok Sabha members. It will be difficult for both the CPI-M candidates - Mohammad Selim from Raigunj and Budrodozza Khan from Murshidabad, to retain the seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha election, without Congress' support.
After the poll debacle in 2016, when the CPI-M Politburo issued a statement which stated that "the alliance with Congress was not in consonance with the Central Committee's decision", both the parties fought separately in all the by-elections and candidates of both the parties had to forfeit their deposits.

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