Sparks flew at the political rally organised by the Left- Congress-Indian Secular Front (ISF) combine in Kolkata's Brigade Parade ground, as ISF chief and Furfura Sharif cleric, Abbas Siddiqui, attacked the Congress.
In a rally attended by senior Congress leaders like Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Bhupesh Bhagel and Left leaders like, Biman Bose, Mohammad Salim and Sitaram Yechury, Siddiqui attacked the Congress for not finalising a seat-sharing agreement with his party.
Trouble started as Siddiqui took the stage when Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, MP and Congress President for West Bengal, was delivering his speech.
Chowdhury was halted by Left leaders who wanted to announce Siddiqui's entry. Live footage from the stage shows Chowdhury first refusing to stop his speech, then denying to continue it, and finally agreeing to finish it on the insistence of Bose.
Thereafter, when Siddiqui took to the stage, he asked his supporters to vote for the Left only, with no mention of the Congress.
"I want to tell all those who love me from the Brigade Ground here, that wherever the Left Front puts up candidates, we will guard our motherland with our blood. We will oust the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its B-team the Trinamool Congress (TMC)", said Siddiqui.
He subsequently explained his stance.
"One can ask me, why I'm talking only about the Left and not the Congress. Let me make one thing clear, I've come here to seek a share, not beg. I want rights for Dalit, adivasi, OBC and Muslims, and that's the share I've come to claim. If someone wants to extend a hand, the door is open for them, and in the coming days Abbas Siddiqui will fight for them too", he said.
Earlier the Congress Bengal unit had written to the national leadership to approve a seat-sharing arrangement with Siddiqui's ISF. However, even though Siddiqui has negotiated and sealed a deal of 30 seats for his party from the Left, talks with Congress are at a stalemate.
West Bengal goes to polls in an eight-phased election starting 27 March, and ending on 29 April. The results for the elections will be declared on 2 May.
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