Cong-TNC tiff in WB

New Delhi: After having its way with the DMK in Tamil Nadu, the Congress wants to contest from 100 of the 294 assembly seats in West Bengal. But the Trinamool Congress may be willing to give only 58 if there is an electoral pact between the two parties.

Congress is expected to begin formal seat sharing talks with the Trinamool led by Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee within a week. Elections in West Bengal will take place from April 18 to May 10 in six phases.

Congress sources said state leaders had suggested that the party should seek from the Trinamool around 100 seats so that the party does not end up becoming an also ran in West Bengal.

Congress also feels this is the best chance to make it big in West Bengal because most pundits feel the Left Front, which has ruled the state since 1977, is on its way out.

But the Trinamool, which is determined to come to power on its own, may be willing to concede only 58 seats to the Congress which in recent years has lost much of its earlier clout in the state to Mamata Banerjee.

Congress leader and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee Tuesday met district presidents and MPs from the state to identify the seats the party wishes to contest, the sources said.

Former union minister Shakeel Ahmed, the Congress in-charge of West Bengal, said informal discussions had taken place with the Trinamool but formal seat sharing talks were yet to begin.

'No formal discussions have taken place. We will sit together and hopefully arrive at a mutually agreeable number for both parties,' Ahmed told the media.

He said the talks were likely to take place in a week.

Ahmed, who met district presidents for more than three hours on Tuesday, took feedback about the party's victory prospects.

In Tamil Nadu, the Congress managed to have its say after earlier being denied its wish to contest from 63 constituencies by the ruling DMK, which wanted the Congress to field candidates only in 60 seats.

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