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West Bengal: Left Front agrees to alliance talks if Congress approaches
Thursday February 11, 2016 9:44 PM, IANS

Kolkata: West Bengal's Left Front on Thursday gave the stamp of approval on holding alliance talks with the Congress, but put the ball on the Congress court, saying it has to approach the combine first with the proposal.

Briefing mediapersons after a meeting of Left Front partners, its chairman Biman Bose said all 11 constituents agreed that talks should be held if the Congress wanted discussions.

"There has been no formal discussions so far with the Congress. We have not received any letter so far from the Congress seeking discussions on the issue," Bose said.

"The question is whether we should agree to hold talks with the Congress if it approached us. All 11 Left Front partners said if the Congress wants to hold discussions with us on the issue, we will discuss," Bose said.

He sidestepped a query on whether the Left Front would pop the proposal for the alliance to the Congress if the latter refused to take the first step.

Asked why the Left Front was open to holding discussions on the alliance with the Congress, Bose referred to communist Russia joining hands with the US and Britain during the Second World War.

"Democracy is in danger, the people's democratic rights are threatened. We want to bring back democracy. And so we are eager to talks to all those who share our desire to restore democracy and want to discuss it with us," he said.

In a related development, former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said a common will to remove the Trinamool Congress from power could be the basis for an alliance between the parties despite their mutual differences.

In an obvious reference to the alliance efforts, veteran CPI-M state secretariat member Bhattacharjee, while not taking the name of the Congress, exuded confidence that past bitterness and differences would not stand in the way.

"There is one thing that you and we understand. There is a call for unity, an alliance. Why? Some people are saying we all should unite, join hands to oust the Trinamool.

"Nothing good will happen to Bengal if Trinamool is not removed from power. This party (Trinamool) is sending our state towards doom," Bhattacharjee said at a party rally at Barrackpore in North 24 Parganas district.

"Whoever wants to oust the Trinamool, there may be differences between us, two individuals or parties may differ on issues, but there is a broad consensus is that this government has to be removed. We have to do it. We have to prepare for that. I am confident."

Bhattacharjee, however, said he could not divulge everything as his party would start a two-day state committee meeting from Thursday to decide on the strategy for the polls.

The state committee's decision would be conveyed to the CPI-M central committee, which is scheduled to hold a three-day session beginning February 16 to take the final decision on the alliance.

Welcoming the Left Front stand as a "positive step", Congress leader Abdul Manna also hoped the alliance would be a reality.

With the polls less than three months away, the state leadership of the CPI-M has been making overtures to the Congress for a joint fight against the Trinamool.

Last week, a majority of state Congress leaders also conveyed to party vice president Rahul Gandhi their desire to team up with the CPI-M at the hustings.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi will take the final decision on the possible alliance.

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