India

Left parties to contest together after cold shoulder from Grand Alliance

By Imran Khan

March 11 (IANS) With the RJD and the Congress, the two major components of Bihar’s Grand Alliance or mahagathbandhan cold-shouldering the the Left parties on seat sharing, they are likely to contest alone from at least 15 of the state’s 40 Lok Sabha.

Unlike in 2014, when Left parties were divided and each contested on its own, they are united this time and have announced they would contest the polls together.

The leaders of the Left parties – including the CPI, the CPI-M and the CPI-ML – have said they are keen to be a part of the Grand Alliance, but response from RJD and Congress has not been positive so far.

“We had held several rounds of talks with RJD and Congress leaders for seat sgaring; now the ball is in their court.They have to decide whether to include us in the Grand Alliance or not,” CPI-M leader Avadesh Kumar said.

Kumar said in case left parties were not be a part of the Grand Alliance, the CPI-M will contest from three seats.

CPI leader Satyanarayan Singh said there is a need of a left and secular alliance to defeat the BJP led NDA in polls.”Till date, nothing has happened”, and so the CPI will contest from six seats.

However, CPI-ML leader Kunal said left parties will contest unitedly if the Grand Alliance does not give it seats, the “Left parties will contest together.”

Kunal said the Left parties are a strong political force on the ground. “We have cadres, supporters and sympathisers as left parties are working with people and fightibg for their rights on the ground.”

According to Grand Alliance leaders, both the RJD and the Congress want to keep the Left parties out in view of their pockets of influence in over a dozen districts of the state but are not willing to give them more than thee or four seats.

Sensing this, the CPI-ML, which is considered a strong political force with three legislators in the state assembly and a huge support base across several districts, particularly in the rural areas, has made it clear that the Left must not be neglected.

While the party has announced candidates in at least six seats including Arah, Siwan, Karakat, Jehanabad, Patliputra and Valmikinagar, CPI(ML) general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya has warned the RJD and the Congress that the Left parties would go to the polls together if they’re not given a respectable seat share.

Similarly, the CPI is ready to contest at least three seats including its traditional strongholds of Begusarai and Madhubani.

Former JNU students’ union president Kanhaiya Kumar is likely to be a CPI candidate from Begusarai.

“Kanhaiya Kumar has been visiting villages and semi-urban pockets in Begusarai since last December to meet people and seek their support,” a CPI leader said.

CPI leader Singh said that with or without the Grand Alliance, one thing is certain: The CPI will contest from Begusarai.

Singh was the only Left leader who shared the stage with Congress president Rahul Gandhi at his February 3 rally in Patna and even addressed it.

In the 2014 general elections, the RJD won only four seats and the Congress two. The NCP won one seat. The JD-U, which contested separately, also won only two seats. The BJP-led NDA won 31 seats, with the BJP tally being 22.

(Imran Khan can be contacted at imran.k@ians.im

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