Displaying bonhomie, senior leaders of the CPI - M and the Congress on Wednesday pitched for an alliance in the upcoming assembly polls in West Bengal, saying both parties needed to forget the bitter rivalry of the past.
Communist Party of India - Marxist politburo member Mohammed Salim and state Congress spokesman Om Prakash Mishra painted a grim picture of the state under the present rulers, Trinamool Congress, alleging that civil liberty was absent and opposition parties were victims of violence and terror tactics.
"When the house is on fire, we shout and call our neighbours. Then we don't remember whether we had some old quarrel or disagreements with these neighbours, " Salim said at a discussion organised by the Press Club.
"Let us not live in the past. We have to respect the sentiments of the people who want freedom from the misrule and tyranny perpetrated by the Trinamool Congress, " he said.
He said that while the CPI - M had opposed the Congress during the Emergency, the present situation in the state was akin to an "undeclared emergency".
"It is not the right time to harp on our past differences. But it is the right time to come together to fulfil our common goal of ridding Bengal of Trinamool misrule and taking it back on the road to progress, " said Salim, who is also a Lok Sabha member.
Mishra said there was no denying the fact that the two parties were at loggerheads during the 34 years of the CPI - M led Left Front rule.
"We may again have differences in the future. But this is not the right time to cling on to the past. We have to face the electorate jointly, as that is the wish of the people. "
However, Trinamool Congress leader Sabyasachi Bagchi claimed the alliance would be "fruitless" as the people have made up their mind to back the "mindboggling" development initiatives taken up by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
"We are not bothered whether the alliance is formed or not. We only know that the opposition is in no position to win, as people feel they are inimical to policies of development, " he said.
Meanwhile, CPI - M central committee member Shyamal Chakraborty exuded confidence that the committee would give its approval in favour of the alliance with the Congress.
"This is a state issue. Our recent party plenum said it was for the state unit of the party to take a stand in such cases. And on that basis it will be discussed by the central committee. "
Asked during a television programme about the Visakhapatnam party Congress's electoral tactical line of having no truck with the Congress, Chakraborty said "the tactical line can always be changed depending on the ground situation".
With the polls less than three months away, the state leadership of the CPI - M has been making overtures to the Congress for a joint fight against the Trinamool.
Last week, a majority of state Congress leaders also conveyed to party vice president Rahul Gandhi their desire to team up with the CPI - M at the hustings.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi will take the final decision on the possible alliance.
The Marxists have announced they would formalise their stand at a two - day state committee meeting from February 13.
The state committee's decision would be conveyed to the CPI - M central committee, which is scheduled to hold a three - day session beginning February 16 to take the firnal decision on the alliance.