Bengal Cong keen on joint campaign

West Bengal Congress leaders are keen on a joint campaign with the Trinamul Congress to ride piggyback on Ms Mamata Banerjee to power, but party leaders from Tamil Nadu are not showing interest for such an exercise with the DMK for the coming electoral battle.

West Bengal PCC chief Manas Bhunia has been pledging the line of joint campaign even before the Congress and the Trinamul Congress begin the seat-sharing exercise for the state Assembly poll. “Both the parties must join hands and organise programmes and movements to resist CPI(M) misdeeds,” Mr Bhunia said in Kolkata recently.
AICC managers want the Congress to be an equal partner in state and could ask for about 100 Assembly seats when the two parties will sit for hard seat-sharing negotiations, expectedly after Ms Banerjee presents the Railway Budget in Parliament next month. But the Congress’ real agenda is to get “winnable seats”. That means it can fight even less seats too. A joint campaign will definitely convey a strong signal of unity and strong determination to oust the Left Front from power in the minds of the people of West Bengal, feels the state Congress leaders.
But in Tamil Nadu, the Congress is cautious after realising that the anti-incumbency and corruption issue could be the main plank of the Opposition parties.
“We know that the pre-poll alliance with the DMK will continue this time for the simple fact that the DMK’s support at the Centre is crucial. Moreover, the party cannot rely on the AIADMK as the latter cannot manage the numbers (DMK has 18 members in the Lok Sabha) and the top brass of the Congress is not comfortable with the AIADMK chief,” a senior Congress leader said.
A Congress leader, who does not want to be quoted, observed that the Congress would have nothing to lose in the coming state Assembly polls. “If the DMK manages to retain the power, it will be well and good. And if it does not, then the Congress would try to build the organisation on its own in the state and the DMK would have no option but to remain with the UPA at the Centre,” the leader said.
The Congress has been out of power in Tamil Nadu since 1967. But the DMK, which has been solely depending on the Congress’ support in the state Assembly, kept the Sonia Gandhi-led party out of power without convincing reasons.
The DMK supremo and Tamil Nadu chief minister M. Karunanidhi is likely to visit capital in the coming days, sources said.

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