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An agreement marked by wrangling, pressure

Special Correspondent

Kolkata: Eleven days after their leaders announced here that they would jointly fight the Lok Sabha polls in West Bengal, the electoral understanding between the Trinamool Congress and the Congress has been formalised.

The agreement on seat adjustments, spelt out separately by the Congress in New Delhi and the Trinamool here, came after days of wrangling on Thursday, the deadline set by Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee for the Congress to make known its decision in the matter.

Though the two parties reached consensus earlier — and as proposed by Ms. Banerjee — that the Trinamool and its allies would contest 28 seats and that the remaining 14 seats in the State be left to the Congress, the latter, it appears, was under pressure over the past few days to accept this formula.

Other considerations — like the dismal prospects of its proposed alliance with the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh and the launching of the Third Front — a coalition of the Left and several regional parties — are believed to have mounted pressure on the Congress to accept the terms laid down by Ms. Banerjee.

The Congress leadership has had to climb down from its demand for a larger share of “winnable” seats in south Bengal — an issue that made the party drag its feet on making a formal announcement on the tie-up. It has also had to contend with misgivings among a section of its State’s leaders about Ms. Banerjee’s seat-sharing formula.

“We shall fight the battle against the Communist Party of India (Marxist) united and vow to usher in a new dawn in West Bengal,” Ms. Banerjee said here, indicating that the tie-up between the two parties would go well beyond the Lok Sabha elections to the time of the Assembly polls in 2011.

“The struggle is to strengthen secularism, unity, for progress and development in our fight against misrule of the CPI(M)”, she said, releasing the names of Trinamool’s candidates for 27 seats. The party will support its ally — the SUCI — in one constituency.

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