Even as West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday said she was thankful to the CPI(ML) for extending support to TMC, senior leaders of CPI (ML) said there was no “support” as such and that they would campaign against the BJP in a majority of seats and leave it to the people to decide who the best opponent against them is.

For many months now, CPI(ML) general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya has maintained, in a stance that differs from the other Left parties, that the primary objective should be to combat the growth of the BJP in Bengal.

On Friday, as TMC announced its candidates for 291 seats, Banerjee named several leaders from other parties who had backed her. Among them, she thanked Bhattacharya for “extending support”.

Speaking about the position of the CPI(ML), Bhattacharya did not use the word “support”. “The stance of the CPI(ML) is very clear. We are going to fight 12 seats on our own. Apart from that, in 12 to 15 seats, we will back selected Left candidates. In the rest of Bengal, we will campaign to defeat the BJP. The people will decide who is the best alternative to the BJP,” he told .

In December, party leaders had indicated that they saw the elections not necessarily as a tripolar fight, but one to primarily keep the “divisive BJP out”. They said they would not contest many seats, but “work on a campaign” to familiarise voters across the state with “what the BJP stands for”.

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