With the Left’s stated opposition to an alliance with the Congress, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee seems to have decided to snuggle up to her former party by reportedly backing the candidature of Abhishek Manu Singhvi in the upcoming biennial elections for the Rajya Sabha.
Singhvi is among the 14 Congress MPs whose tenures are coming to an end in April-May, this year. He had been elected from Rajasthan last time where the Congress does not have the required number in the State legislative Assembly to get him re-elected. Elections are due for a total 58 seats in 16 states on March 23. In West Bengal, five seats are due to be contested.
The ruling Trinamool Congress, with its 213 MLAs, is in a position to get four MPs elected. A candidate needs 49 votes to be elected from West Bengal and the TMC will easily get four of its candidates elected to the Rajya Sabha.
The Congress is short of seven votes and the TMC has 17 superfluous votes, which, sources said, are set to be cast in favour of Singhvi.
Sources said the Congress president Rahul Gandhi had earlier left the decision to pick the candidate on the party’s State unit. The West Bengal Congress unit was reportedly in favour of backing an independent candidate supported by the the CPI(M) which has 26 MLAs in the State Assembly.
However, the CPI(M)’s State unit and the West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee could not come to an agreement. The All India Congress Committee then intervened and pressed for its own choice.
The Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad reportedly spoke to Banerjeee, who was apparently not too unwilling to be persuaded in favour of Singhvi.
The shape of future alliances is thus clear, at least as far as West Bengal is concerned.