The Indian National Congress on December 24 approved an electoral alliance with the Left parties for the upcoming Legislative Assembly elections in West Bengal.
Bengal is expected to head for assembly polls in April-May 2021. The alliance will be taking on the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) led by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which has seen a sudden rise in its popularity in the state in recent years.
“Today the Congress High command has formally approved the electoral alliance with the #Left parties in the impending election of West Bengal,” Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Leader of Congress party in the Lok Sabha tweeted. Chowdhury hails from Bengal.
The two sides had such an arrangement in the 2016 assembly election as well. The Congress and the Left had managed to win a total of 76 seats. While the BJP won just three, the Trinamool had bagged 211 seats in the 294 elected-member House. The Left and Congress were reportedly in talks for an alliance during the 2019 Lok Sabha polls too. However, this did not materialise.
The Congress and the Left parties have faced difficulty in holding on to their voter base in recent years. BJP’s dramatic rise in Bengal has come at the cost of not just the Trinamool, but also the Congress and the Left.
BJP's efforts on the ground led to the party winning 18 of Bengal’s 42 parliamentary seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha election, up from just two in 2014. BJP’s vote share in the state soared to 40.6 percent in the 2019 general election from about 17 percent in 2014. This brought the saffron party’s share close to TMC’s 43.6 percent.