Mamata Banerjee Kicks Off Poll Campaign As Congress-Left Decide On Alliance

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Mamata Banerjee at a Women's Day march from Shyambazar to Esplanade in Kolkata


Kolkata:  The Congress is willing to call it an alliance. "Why should we play hide and seek," said Bengal Congress chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury in Kolkata on Tuesday.

The Left Front on Monday declared it was not an alliance, not a joint venture they were entering into with Congress. "You can call it an understanding," said CPM leader and Left Front chief Biman Bose. The same evening the Left Front announced a partial list of candidates -- for 116 seats out of 294.

The state Congress on Tuesday put out a list of 75 -- not candidates but seats that they would contest.

"Our party leader Dr Om Prakash Mishra has offered to contest against Mamata Banerjee. We appreciate his offer and will send his name to the Congress high command which will select candidates," said Mr Adhir Chowdhury, while Mr Mishra stood by his side.

Meanwhile, Mamata Banerjee informally kicked off her party's poll campaign in Kolkata with a Women's Day march from Shyambazar in the north to Esplanade at the heart of the city. At the end of the march, a terse appeal. Bring the Trinamool back.

However, Mamata Banerjee will officially launch her campaign for the assembly elections today with a public rally at Malda town. Her second stop: Murshidabad district.

Both these districts are traditional Congress strongholds where Trinamool is trying hard to make an entry. Both the districts also have more than 50 per cent Muslim voters.

Violence erupted in Kaliachak in Malda on January 3 after a lakh-strong gathering of Muslim activists gathered to protest against alleged blasphemous comments by an activist of the right-wing Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha, who is now in a Lucknow jail.

The protesters, some of whom were allegedly armed, ransacked a Border Security Force jeep, attacked a police station and burnt cars.

The BJP had accused the state's ruling Trinamool Congress of protecting those behind the violence.


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