West Bengal's main opposition Left Front on Monday released its first list of 116 candidates, that included former Asian Games gold medallist runner Jyotirmoyee Sikdar, and said talks were on "at a fast pace" for an understanding with the Congress, for the upcoming state assembly polls.However, LF chairman Biman Bose ruled out any joint campaign with the Congress."Discussion were on at a fast pace. We already have a front. Now we are forging a new front. Earlier we had parties like the Nationalist Congress Party and the Rashtriya Janata Dal with us. Now the Janata Dal-United will be part of the expanded Left front. Some other parties are also keen to join," said Bose.Regarding the Congress, he said the LF was trying to work out an understanding with the Congress, which would ensure there was no split in anti-Trinamool Congress votes.
"If the Congress has faith in the LF slogan of 'Trinamool hotao, Bangla bachao, and BJP hotao, desh bachao', it will be with us. We are trying to work out an understanding with the Congress, and neither a front, nor alliance."Congress has ruled the state for long. Congress also had an electoral understanding with the Trinamool Congress in the past. Today we welcome the Congress if it shares our slogan against the Congress. But understanding does not mean an alliance or a front," said Bose.Ruling out any joint campaign with the Congress, the LF chairman said: "LF will campaign from LF platform, and Congress from its platform. There will be no platform sharing on the campaign trail".
However, in the event of violence during the poll campaign, the LF, its associates and the Congress will rush to the spot without carrying the respective party flags.Bose mocked posters and graffiti linking the LF spearhead Communist Party of India-Marxist poll symbol sickle-hammer-star with the Congress' symbol hand. "This is not our stand. sickle-hammer is sickle-hammer. Hand is hand."Sikdar, a former CPI-M MP, would be in fray from Ranaghat North seat in Nadia district, while State CPI-M secretary Surjya Kant Mishra would contest from his old constituency of Narayangarh of West Midnapore district.A significant feature of the list made public on the day was that 68 of the candidates were fresh faces.The list included 16 women, and 25 from the religious minorities.The state is slated to hold the seven-phase polls from April 4 to May 5.