A day after announcing their tie-up for the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls due in April-May, both the Congress and the Trinamool Congress have braced themselves to strike a hard bargain and wrest as many seats as possible from each other.
Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee wants the Congress to confine itself to the six Lok Sabha seats it won in 2004, while the latter is only willing to forgo the eight Lok Sabha seats her party won during the 1999 Lok Sabha polls.
The eight Lok Sabha seats the Trinamool had won in 1999 were — Barasat, Calcutta North-West, Calcutta North-East, Calcutta South, Serampore, Contai, Jadavpur and Nabadwip.
However, after delimitation, some of these seats, including Basnerjee’s own Kolkata South seat, have been reorganised and renamed.
Two seats in Kolkata — Calcutta North-West and Calcutta North East - don’t exist now after the delimitation of 42 Lok Sabha seats in the state.
In lieu of that, the Trinamool is likely to demand two more seats this time around, which the party is yet to identify.
The Trinamool has also demanded that the party be allowed to contest 19 Lok Sabha seats it had lost but finished second during 2004 Lok Sabha elections.
These seats are — Barasat, Basirhat, Mathurapur, Diamond Harbour, Jadavpur, Barrackpore, Howrah, Uluberia, Serampore, Hooghly, Panskura, Tamluk, Contai, Jhargram, Bankura, Bishnupur, Asansol, Katwa (does not exist now after delimitation) and Bolpur.
Banerjee had raised the seat-sharing issue during her meeting with the West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee (WBPCC) president and External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee late on Sunday night.
But details about the seat-sharing have not yet finalised.
The Congress, on the other hand, pointed out 15 Lok Sabha seats where the Trinamool had failed to perform well during the 2004 Lok Sabha elections and urged her to give at least eight of these. This means the Congress is expecting Banerjee to offer them 14 seats including the six which the Congress had won in 2004.
Trinamool leaders said their party chief might favourably consider the Congress plea.
“If Mamata could sacrifice 17 seats to the BJP in 2004, she should not hesitate to allow us to fight at least 14 seats as we are confident enough to win most of these,” said a senior Congress leader from Delhi.