Congress, Trinamool make counter-claims over Tripura alliance

Agartala, Jan 31 (IANS) The Congress Thursday said it has reached an understanding with the Trinamool Congress to fight the Feb 14 Tripura assembly polls so as not to divide the anti-Left Front votes, a claim which was rejected by the party led by Mamata Banerjee.

The Trinamool Congress of the West Bengal chief minister had fielded 22 candidates in the 2008 assembly elections in Tripura, but has decided not to contest the 2013 polls.

"I have discussed with (West Bengal chief minister) Mamata Banarjee and (Trinamool Congress general secretary) Mukul Roy and then they have decided not to put up any candidates in the elections," Tripura state Congress president Sudip Roy Barman told reporters.

"Our aim is not to divide the non-Left votes and to defeat the Left parties at any cost. Trinamool Congress workers with their flags have been participating in our on going rallies and campaign," he claimed.

However, Trinamool Congress' Tripura unit president Manik Deb denied about such understandings and rejected the claim.

"We have held at least three rounds of meetings with Mamata Banerjee and Mukul Roy in Kolkata recently and never resolved to support the Congress. We have decided to keep equal distance from both CPI-M (Communist Party of India-Marxist) and the Congress," Deb told IANS.

"The Congress withdrew support from the Mamata Banarjee led Trinamool Congress government in West Bengal. We have withdrawn support from the Congress-led government at the centre. So there is no question of support to the Congress in the (state assembly) elections," he said.

But the Tripura unit of the Trinamool Congress itself is a divided house over fielding candidates in the elections.

"I think our high command has taken a right decision of not contesting the elections in Tripura because the non-left votes would have been divided giving advantage to the CPI-M," Trinamool Congress leader Arun Chandra Bhowmik said, indicating an element of confusion in the party over the issue.

The Trinamool Congress had secured only 6,620 votes (0.35 percent) of the total of 1,880,834 votes polled in the 2008 assembly elections.