Sat, 17 Apr 2021

By Siddharth SharmaNew Delhi [India], February 27 (ANI): West Bengal may be the most talked about in the upcoming assembly elections 2021, but former Congress president Rahul Gandhi has so far kept himself away from campaigning in the state.

Tomorrow's Left-Congress joint rally in Kolkata will not see the presence of Congress top brass, although the All India Congress Committee (AICC) in charge of the West Bengal Jitin Prasada and Chattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel will attend the rally.

Except for West Bengal, Rahul has been continuously campaigning in poll-bound states like Assam and the Union Territory of Puducherry. In Kerala and Tamil Nadu he has had more than one tour this month.

Rahul Gandhi has chosen to skip the Left-Congress joint rally that is being pegged as one of the biggest events ahead of Assembly polls in West Bengal. According to sources, he will turn to Bengal, probably after Kerala elections are wrapped up.

Polling for the 140-member Kerala Assembly in 14 districts will be held in a single phase on April 6, while West Bengal will witness eight-phased Assembly Polls for 294 seats starting from March 27. The counting in both the states will be held on May 2.

"In Kerala, the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) has a big challenge to defeat the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government, which is being led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) CPM. The Congress party has joined hands with CPM to fight Assembly polls in West Bengal. Congress strategists feel that if Rahul shares the stage with CPM leaders in Bengal, then it may be at a disadvantage in Kerala. Rahul Gandhi is also an MP from Kerala. In such a situation, nobody wants to take any pleasure in forming their government in Kerala," a source told ANI.

According to sources, Congress strategists are aware of the ground reality that "Left and Congress alliance in Bengal is being considered out of the main fight for the Assembly polls.""It is obvious that Congress does not want to miss the chance of winning Kerala Assembly polls. That is why the map of Bengal is still missing from Rahul Gandhi's election programs," they said.

State Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury has already said that "Bengal Congress is self-sufficient in the matter of campaigning."Jitin Prasad, in-charge of the West Bengal Congress, said, "Rahul Gandhi has to campaign in all five states. Our schedule is fixed at an appropriate time. According to the phase, we are fixing the schedule of Rahul Gandhi's meetings."According to sources even after April 6, the date when Kerala will go to polls, Rahul Gandhi will do very limited campaigning in Bengal.

"The Congress wants that, in case if BJP government formed in West Bengal, then Opposition front at national level including TMC could not blame the Congress. Overall, Congress feels that it does not have a profitable deal but there is a possibility of loss in West Bengal," they said.

In West Bengal, the Congress is contesting in alliance with the Left parties and the new entrant Indian Secular Front.

West Bengal is likely to witness a triangular contest this time with TMC, Congress-Left alliance and BJP in the fray.

In the 2016 West Bengal Assembly elections, out of the 294 seats, Congress had managed to win 44 seats while the Left Front bagged 33 seats. The ruling TMC secured 211 seats and the BJP had won three seats.

The BJP made deep inroads in the state in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections winning 18 seats and reducing TMC's tally to 22. Out of the total 42 Lok Sabha constituencies in West Bengal, Congress won two seats, the Left drew a blank.

After BJP's performance in the 2019 polls, several TMC leaders have joined the party led by JP Nadda. (ANI)

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