Trinamool Congress's Partha Chatterjee, Leader of the Opposition in the West Bengal Assembly, talks to Saubhadro Chatterji:
How many seats you are expecting to win in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls?
We will make it tough for the Left Front in all the 42 seats in West Bengal. In the last election, we had only one seat (Mamata Banerjee from South Kolkata). This time we will certainly reach the double-digit mark. We are contesting 28 seats and the Congress 14. But the way the political wind is blowing, we will win at least 70 per cent of the seats.
Most of the state-level Congress leaders opposed the seat-sharing agreement. Do you think the TC and the Congress will be able to work together successfully?
Some leaders might have had initial reservations, but now they have overcome those problems after their high command made it clear that the two parties would fight together. If you see, all national-level parties have the same situation -- the state leadership shows resistance because of its individual interest. But the ground-level workers are united. People who are suffering at the hands of the CPI-M, workers who are regularly beaten up by the Left hooligans, put tremendous pressure in favour of the alliance. The state leaders had to buckle under this pressure.
On issues like industrialisation and land-use, the Congress and the Trinamool have entirely different viewpoints. How will you campaign together?
It's true that at the national level, the Congress could not show solidarity with us because it had other compulsions. It was running a government with the help of the CPI-M. But some of its state leaders, on a few occasions, stood by us and supported our causes.
The CPI-M has major differences with the Congress on almost all issues. Yet they helped the Congress form a government to keep the BJP away. So, we can also stand united with the sole aim to oust the CPI-M from Bengal.
This will be our common cause. And remember, Trinamool is an offshoot of the Congress. On most of the issues, we have a common approach. In areas where we have differences, we will set them aside for the sake of throwing out the CPI-M.
In 2001, you tried the same thing. But...
(Interrupts) In 2001, it was not a deep-rooted alliance. Now, since the last two years, there is a mass wave against the CPI-M. We didn't see this wave in 2001. The welfare of minorities, the government employees' woes, the neglect of the scheduled castes and tribes, land problems... on every issue the mass wave is against the CPI-M. This will pay results.