Congress-TMC alliance: Navigating mistrust amid BJP challenge

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Congress TMC Alliance

Rahul Gandhi (Left); Mamata Banerjee (Right)

Kolkata: Navigating a history of animosity and mistrust, negotiations for a potential Congress-TMC alliance in West Bengal face significant challenges while addressing the shared adversary of the BJP, with the Bengal Congress unit appearing reluctant to engage in an electoral pact.


With both the Congress and TMC key allies of INDIA opposition bloc, unofficial reports have indicated initiation of seat-sharing talks between the two.

The political landscape shifted notably when West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC leader Mamata Banerjee expressed confidence in a three-way alliance involving the TMC, Congress, and the Left, eliciting mixed reactions from the CPI(M) and Congress in the eastern state.

According to TMC sources, the ruling party in Bengal is inclined to allocate four out of the 42 Lok Sabha seats to Congress.


Currently, the grand old party has two seats in West Bengal, both in minority-dominated districts of Malda and Murshidabad.

TMC MP Sougata Roy affirmed, "Our party supremo has said a three-way alliance is possible. It reflects our commitment to fight and defeat the BJP in the next general elections." A senior TMC leader, who did not want to be named, said a Congress-TMC alliance could potentially secure 36-37 seats out of the 42 in the state, challenging the BJP's dominance in previous elections. The saffron camp had bagged 18 Lok Sabha seats from the state in 2019.

On Wednesday, the Bengal Congress leadership met the party high command in New Delhi to deliberate on the possibility of an alliance with the TMC. Presently aligned with the CPI(M) in Bengal, the state Congress leadership remains cautious about allying with the Trinamool.


Both the parties have fought elections in an alliance – 2001 assembly polls, 2009 Lok Sabha elections and 2011 assembly polls.

In 2011, the Congress-TMC alliance beat the 34-year-old Left Front regime in West Bengal.

The history of their alliance has been marked by discontent, with Congress accusing the TMC of depriving them of legitimate seats in previous elections.


Senior Congress leader Abdul Mannan emphasized, "If the party asks us to ally with the TMC, which has ruined the Congress in Bengal, we will follow their instructions." Former state Congress president Pradip Bhattacharya acknowledged the legacy of mistrust but stressed the need to unite against the common enemy, saying, "It is not a state assembly election, it is parliamentary elections where we have to defeat the BJP at any cost." Regarding seat-sharing deals in West Bengal, Congress Working Committee member Deepa Dasmunsi suggested focusing on seats won by the BJP in 2019.

"There is no need for talks on the seats that Congress and TMC had won respectively. The seat-sharing has to be for the 18 seats that BJP won in 2019," she had recently said.

Since 2011, the Congress's political influence in the state has dwindled, experiencing an exodus of legislators, MPs, and leaders to the TMC.


From 2011-2021, nearly 70 MLAs and one MP of the Congress switched over to the Trinamool.

The vote share of the grand old party, which ruled the state till 1977 and was in the opposition till 2011, dipped from 14 per cent in 2011 to 3 per cent in 2021 and no representation in the state assembly.

The last blow to the Congress-TMC relationship came with the defection of Congress MLA Bayron Biswas from the minority-dominated Sagardighi seat earlier this year.


The CPI(M), however, ruled out any possibility of an alliance with the TMC.

"There can be no alliance with the TMC in Bengal as it is not trustworthy. And regarding Congress, it is for them to be clear with whom they want to have an understanding," CPI(M) state secretary Mohammed Salim told PTI.

Political scientist Biswnath Chakraborty said the mistrust between the two is hard to ignore. "With both the Congress and TMC having a lot of animosity, vote transfer at the ground level will be a major issue," he said.

Political analyst Suman Bhattacharya said, "The Congress high command has to choose whether they can win by fighting it alone or having an alliance with the TMC would be more beneficial. Having an alliance would provide them with an ally which can bring them seats," he said.