In an important development, the Indian National Congress (INC) party on 24 December announced that it will contest the Assembly Elections due in West Bengal in April-May next year in alliance with the communist parties.
Leader of the INC in the Lok Sabha, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury made the announcement. He said the alliance has got the approval of the party’s top leadership.
“Today, INC High command has formally approved the electoral alliance with the communist parties in the impending election of West Bengal,” Chowdhury tweeted.
It may be recalled that in October, the central committee of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M) or CPM] had given its approval to the state unit’s decision to ally with secular parties, including the INC, for the upcoming West Bengal election.
The CPM Politburo had given its go-ahead to the move but had left the final decision to the central committee.
The CPM top leadership had in the last elections in 2016 decided against allying with the INC party. In the elections with Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress (TMC) won, the INC had bagged 44 seats while the Left Front had finished with just 32 seats.
The INC and the communist parties have faced difficulty in holding on to their voter base in recent years. BJP’s dramatic rise in Bengal has come at the cost of not just the Trinamool, but the INC and the left.
BJP’s efforts on the ground led to the party winning 18 of Bengal’s 42 parliamentary seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha election, up from just two in 2014. BJP’s vote share in the state soared to 40.6% in the 2019 general election from about 17% in 2014. This brought the saffron party’s share close to TMC’s 43.6%.