Congress to establish broad-based alliance in Bengal


Kolkata : In an apparent bid to pressurise ally Trinamool Congress, the West Bengal Pradesh Congress Friday announced that it was eyeing a broad-based alliance with secular parties to end the Left Front rule in the state.

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Among the parties the Congress is trying to rope in is the People’s Democratic Conference in India (PDCI) led by Siddiqullah Chowdhury – an outfit with some base among the Muslims. Incidentally, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee was also trying to woo the Muslims and had a pact with Siddiqullah for some time.

State Congress chief Manas Bhunia told mediapersons: “We are trying to set up a grand alliance – United Secular Democratic Front (USDF) – comprising secular and nationalistic parties.”

Another party the Congress is in talks with is the Party For Democratic Socialism (PDS), which the Trinamool had aligned with during the anti-land acquisition agitations against the Tata Nano factory in Singur and the chemical hub project in Nandigram.

Bhunia admitted that his party was yet to inform the Trinamool Congress, the second largest partner in the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the centre, about its efforts to cobble together the USDF.

The state Congress and the Trinamool have a love-hate relationship. Though the two parties managed to enter into a seat-sharing deal in the last Lok Sabha polls, talks for seat adjustment fell through in the civic elections earlier this year.

Besides, the two have had vitriolic exchanges on several issues of late.

Observers interpret the Congress’ move to form the USDF as an effort to strengthen its position ahead of the seat sharing talks with the Trinamool for the state assembly polls next year.