West Bengal Congress chief Adhir Chowdhury gave hint at the presence of a deputy chief minister in the next government, which he is confident the Left-Congress alliance will form after the ongoing election.
Speaking in an exclusive interview to Anandabazaar website, Chowdhury, a former Union minister and a heavyweight leader from Murshidabad district of West Bengal, said the public opinion is fast turning in favour of the alliance and opined that a collective leadership is more acceptable than an individual leader. [Mamata has lost only 1 election till date]
Chowdhury said it is not necessary for the alliance to have a face. "It is a fight between two political forces and those who win will have the chief minister, deputy chilef minister," he said.
The veteran Congress leader, however, did not say which parties the CM and deputy CM will represent in the Assembly. He said it is an issue which is yet to finalised and the decision will be taken at the right time.
Is the state Congress chief sounding too confident? The fact is the grand-old party has none of the next 53 constituencies in three districts going to the polls on April 30 (the Trinamool Congress has 49 of them while Left four). In 2011, the Congress had contested in only three of these 53 seats and finished second in two and third in one.
Even in the 49 seats that went to the polls on April 25, the Congress has just two while the TMC has 43. With the party in such a poor shape in South Bengal, does the Congress have any chance of becoming a part of the government after May 19?
The Congress's next-to-zero presence in vast areas of South Bengal is more than the presence it has in some pockets in central and northern Bengal. If we break up the state into North and South Bengal, we will see that the number of seats in the South, which the TMC's stronghold, is much higher than in the North and centre. It means that the Congress-Left alliance might match the TMC in terms of vote-shares, but in terms of seats, the ruling party is at an advantage.
North and central Bengal constituencies and tallies of Left-Cong alliance and TMC as of 2011:
- Jalpaiguri - 12 seats; Cong-Left 8 ; TMC 3
- Cooch Behar - 9 seats; Cong-Left 5; TMC 4
- Darjeeling - 6 seats; Cong-Left 2; TMC 1
- North Dinajpur - 9 seats; Cong-Left 6; TMC 2
- South Dinajpur - 6 seats; Cong-Left 1; TMC 5
- Malda - 12 seats; Cong-Left 11; TMC 1
- Murshidabad - 22 seats; Cong-Left 21; TMC 1
In 76 seats in North and central Bengal, the Congress-Left has 54 while the TMC the remaining 17. The remaining five were one by others.
- Birbhum - 11 seats; Cong-Left 5; TMC 6
- Burdwan - 25 seats; Cong-Left 10; TMC 15
- Kolkata - 11 seats; Cong-Left 0; TMC 11
- Hooghly - 18 seats; Cong-Left 2; TMC 16
- Howrah - 16 seats; Cong-Left 1; TMC 15
- North 24 Parganas - 33 seats; Cong-Left 4; TMC 28
- South 24 Parganas - 31 seats; Cong-Left 4; TMC 26
- Nadia - 17 seats; Cong-Left 4; TMC 13
- Purulia - 9 seats; Cong-Left 4; TMC 5
- East Midnapore - 16 seats; Cong-Left 0; TMC 16
- West Midnapore - 19 seats; Cong-Left 11; TMC 8
- Bankura - 12 seats; Cong-Left 4; TMC 8
In 218 seats in South Bengal, the picture is just the opposite. Here, the Congress-Left has only 49 seats as against the TMC's 167.
In terms of vote-share, the Congress-Left has an advantage though. In North and central Bengal, the alliance's combined 2011 vote-share was 30 per cent while in the South, it is 45.71 per cent. For the TMC, the figures are 18.42 per cent in the North and 45.50 per cent in the South.
How does the Congress chief of the state hope to overcome the massive gap in South Bengal in terms of seats? Will just a media campaigning against Mamata Banerjee in issues like Saradha and Narada enough?