UP bypolls: Notice to Cong candidate for distributing money. Image Source: IANS News

New Delhi, Nov 27 : The state leaders of the Congress in West Bengal have authorised the party high command to take a decision on alliance ahead of the Assembly elections scheduled next year.

On Friday, Bengal Congress leaders, along with state in-charge Jitin Prasada, held a meeting with Rahul Gandhi, in which the state leaders gave their feedback to the former Congress chief about the current political situation in West Bengal.

Sources said that Rahul Gandhi listened to all the leaders carefully and asked about the election preparedness for the upcoming Assembly polls in the state.

The sources said that Bengal Congress leaders have held informal talks with the Left parties, but a final decision on alliance will be taken by interim party chief Sonia Gandhi.

While the Trinamool Congress is facing an exodus with many leaders jumping ship to the BJP, the Congress faces a tough task of stopping the saffron brigade in the state.

The 294-member Bengal Assembly will go to the polls early next year. In the 2016 Assembly elections, the Congress had allied with the Left parties and secured 44 seats, the second highest after the Trinamool. However, around half of the MLAs have joined the Trinamool since then.

While the BJP has made a lot of inroads in the state since then, winning as many as 18 Lok Sabha seats in the 2019 general elections, the Congress seems to be in fix, whether to go with the Left or the Trinamool.

Two senior Congress leaders, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and Deepa Das Munshi, are against going with the Trinamool, while some MLAs are not averse to joining hands with the ruling dispensation, provided it gives a fair deal to the Congress, sources said.

The Congress leaders are insisting on finalising the alliance soon to start preparing for the elections. The Left and the Congress had held a joint rally on November 23.

As many as 90 segments in the 294-member Bengal Assembly have sizeable Muslim voters, who can be a deciding factor in any poll battle. Even if the AIMIM doesn't win many seats in Bengal, it can surely play a Bihar-like spoilsport for the Trinamool and the Congress.

Chowdhury has attacked Owaisi, saying he is out to benefit the BJP. On the other hand, Owaisi denied the charge and said that he was running a political party and will contest elections wherever the party wishes.

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