Tripura Elections: Left to leave 'few more' seats to Congress

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Agartala/Kolkata: The CPI(M)-led Left Front will leave a 'few more seats' for its ally Congress, than earlier agreed to, in a seat sharing formula that is being hammered out here, a senior Marxist party leader said in Agartala on Sunday. CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury too indicated in Kolkata that the party was quite hopeful that a consensus would be reached with Congress on seat sharing.

On January 25, the Left Front had declared candidates for 47 Assembly constituencies including one independent, leaving 13 seats for the Congress as part of the decision by the party's high command in Delhi.

However, the Congress which has a lone MLA in the assembly as of now, was upset over what it felt was a meagre allocation given its potential strength. On Saturday, an 'angry' Congress announced candidates for 17 Assembly seats out of 60-member Assembly, leaving analysts flummoxed.

“We had a first round meeting with Congress leaders over the seat sharing deal. The Congress leaders are seeking more seats. The matter is under consideration of the Left parties including CPI(M)”, party state committee member Pabitra Kar told PTI.

He indicated that a 'few more seats' will be given to Congress so that the seat adjustment deal works. This will be finalised by the central leadership of both parties. “Whatever decision is taken it will have to be made by today itself because tomorrow will be the last date for making nominations for the ensuing elections' ', he said.

However, TPCC president Birajit Sinha and party MLA Sudip Roy Barman both are set to contest from Kailashahar and Agartala respectively, but could not be reached despite several attempts. In Kolkata, however, the CPI(M) leadership seemed to indicate that the negotiations may take a day or two more.

"We for the first time are coming into an electoral understanding with other forces (in Tripura). By February 2, we think some seat arrangement adjustments will be reached.

"We are not contesting in all the 60 seats in Tripura and there will be seat adjustments with the Congress and other secular democratic forces in the state," Yechury said.

He said the party has appealed to all "so that the BJP is removed from office, so that democracy, rule of law and democracy can be preserved." Monday is the last date for nomination for the assembly elections in Tripura and February 2 is the last date for withdrawal of nominations.

"The attacks on democracy are deepening all over the country in all spheres in Tripura. Any question of holding a free and fair elections cannot come unless democracy and democratic rights are safeguarded and that requires all forces who believe in the Indian Constitution to come together," he said.

The BJP has announced 54 candidates, including junior Union minister Pratima Bhoumik, for Tripura Elections, which is scheduled on February 16.