CPI(M) comes out with first list of 59 candidates

CPI(M) comes out with first list of 59 candidates
New Delhi, Feb 27 (PTI) CPI(M), which is likely to contest about 70 seats in the coming Lok Sabha elections, today announced the first list of 59 candidates from 12 states, including 31 and 14 from Left bastions of West Bengal and Kerala respectively.

The party Polit Bureau, at its meeting here yesterday, also gave final touches to its election manifesto to focus on defeating the "communal" BJP and its allies, formation of a "secular" government and strengthening the presence of CPI(M) and the Left in Parliament, Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury told reporters here.

In the list of 59, there were eight women candidates and 24 new faces who were contesting Lok Sabha polls for the first time. The list included 34 sitting members.

Reiterating party stand not to have a "front or alliance" with Congress, Yechury said "we are announcing our list. We are hopeful that secular parties will support us as we would extend our support to them. We will strive to ensure that the secular vote does not split".

Besides 31 from West Bengal and 14 from Kerala, the party will contest two seats each from Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Tripura and Tamil Nadu. It will contest one seat each from Chhattisgarh, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Punjab and Uttaranchal.

Two sitting MPs each from West Bengal and Kerala have been dropped due to their age and health factor, Yechury said.

CPI(M) was in talks with other Left and "secular" parties for seat adjustments in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Bihar, he said.

Replying to questions about who would lead the "secular" government in case such a combination came to power or whether his party would join such a government, the CPI(M) leader said all these issues would be decided on the basis of the ground situation after the election results.

To questions on the Andhra Pradesh situation, Yechury said "the main aim would be to defeat the TDP-BJP combine. We will first shortlist the Left candidates and declare our seats and then seek support of the secular forces." On the demand for a separate Telengana state, he said the party has been opposed to the demand as "it will lead to opening up of a pandora's box". He also denied CPI(M) was part of the alliance between the newly-formed TRS and Congress and said Congress had "not openly stated" their support for a separate Telengana so far.

In Tamil Nadu where the party is contesting from Madurai and Nagercoil, Yechury said the seats had been decided on the basis of an understanding with DMK, though no front had been formed with it.

The CPI(M) would contest Varanasi and Kanpur seats in UP, he said, adding Mulayam Singh Yadav and Samajwadi Party were the "major anti-communal forces" there.

He said talks were also on with RJD for seat adjustments in Bihar in return of the Kolkata North-West seat in West Bengal. CPI(M) has sought two seats from Bihar -- Bhagalpur and another seat for which it has suggested the constituencies of Samastipur, Bettia, Jhanjharpur, Madhepura and Nawada.

The Polit Bureau also decided to stage demonstrations and other actions throughout the country on March 20 to demand withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. It also congratulated workers and employees for the Feb 24 nationwide strike.

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