The formation of a Third Front in West Bengal which is an alliance of the Congress, Left Front and the Furfura Sharif cleric Abbas Siddiqui's Indian Secular Front (ISF), has caused a rift within the Congress.
After a public spat between Siddiqui and Bengal Congress Chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury at a joint rally of the Front at the Brigade Parade Grounds in Kolkata, Chowdhury has been attacked by Congress MP Anand Sharma.
Sharma said that the state Congress seeking an alliance with Siddiqui went "against the core values" of the Congress party.
What Did Anand Sharma Say?
Sharma took to Twitter to criticise the West Bengal Congress and specifically Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury for agreeing to share a platform with the ISF.
"Congress’ alliance with parties like ISF and other such forces militates against the core ideology of the party and Gandhian and Nehruvian secularism, which forms the soul of the party. These issues need to be approved by the CWC", tweeted Sharma.
"Congress cannot be selective in fighting communalists but must do so in all its manifestations, irrespective of religion and colour. The presence and endorsement West Bengal PCC President is painful and shameful, he must clarify", he added.
Congress leader Jitin Prasada reacted to Sharma's comments.
"Alliance decisions are taken keeping in mind the best interests of the party and the workers. Now is the time for everyone to join hands and work towards strengthening the prospects of the Congress in the poll bound states. @INCIndia @rssurjewala @adhirrcinc @AnandSharmaINC", tweeted Prasada.
"Know Your Facts", Says Adhir
In response to Sharma's tweets, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury posted a series of tweets in which he asked the former to "know his facts".
"CPI(M) led Left Front is leading the secular alliance in West Bengal of which Congress is an integral part. We are determined to defeat BJP's communal & divisive politics and an autocratic regime", said Chowdhury.
"@INCIndia has got its full share of seats. Left Front is allocating seats from its share to the newly formed Indian Secular Front-ISF. Ur choice to call the decision of CPM led front ‘communal’ is only serving the polarising agenda of BJP", he added.
"Those who are committed to fight against #BJP parties venomous communalism should support the Congress & campaign for the party in five states rather than attempting to undermine the party by remarks in tune with BJP’s agenda. Would urge a select group of distinguished Congressmen to rise above always seeking personal comfort spots & stop wasting time singing praises of PM. They owe a duty to strengthen the party & not undermine the tree that nurtured them", he said, in a final attack on Sharma.
The Congress-Left-ISF Alliance
The Congress and the ISF have both finalised on an alliance and seat sharing agreement with the Left Front in Bengal, but have been unable to finalise an alliance with each other.
As per the last seat-sharing talks between the Left and the Congress, the Congress has agreed to field candidates in 92 out of 294 assemblies in the state. The rest would be left for the Left.
As per Siddiqui, the Left has agreed to share 30 seats with him. Since there's no alliance between the ISF and the Congress, these 30 seats will be going from the Left's share.
Reportedly, Siddiqui made a demand for 80 seats from the Left-Congress coalition.
Earlier in February, Bengal Congress leader and the party's leader of opposition in the West Bengal Assembly, Abdul Mannan, had written to the Delhi high command, asking them to approve of the party's alliance with the ISF.
"The addition of ISF in the Left-Congress alliance may be a game changer in the ensuing assembly elections", Mannan had said.