Kolkata, Feb 29: The West Bengal unit of the Communist Party of India, a constituent of the Left Front in the state, on Monday said the Congress should first approach the leftist conglomerate with a formal proposal before the alliance process can begin. The West Bengal Pradesh Congress earlier sought an alliance with democratic and secular forces to take on the ruling Trinamool Congress and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party in the coming state polls.

“So far, there have only been speculations, suggestions or press statements. But unless there is a formal proposal from the Congress, how can there be an alliance?” CPI state secretary Prabodh Panda told on Monday, a day after state Congress chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury issued a statement on the issue. (Also Read: Assembly Polls 2016; Sonia Gandhi has no inkling about Cong-Left Front alliance says, TMC)

While Chowdhury’s statement called for uniting the democratic and secular forces in West Bengal, state Congress general secretary Om Prakash Mishra made it clear that the call was directed at the CPI-M and other Left Front partners apart from other parties opposed to the BJP and Trinamool Congress.

Panda, however, stressed the need for both the camps to approach each other formally.  “If there has to be an alliance, people from both the camps need to act, but so far it has only been suggestions or leaders giving a public call, but nothing has been done formally,” said Panda, a former Lok Sabha member.

CPI veteran Gurudas Dasgupta, who had earlier lamented that the issue was not being discussed with his party, refused to comment. Dasgupta earlier this month said the CPI would decide on the alliance only if there was a proposal, asserting it would do whatever was required to “protect democracy in Bengal”.

A meeting of Left Front constituents on February 11 put its stamp of approval on holding alliance talks with the Congress, but put the ball in the Congress court by saying it has to approach the combine first with the proposal. On February 18, the CPI-M central committee sought the cooperation of all democratic forces to defeat the Trinamool in the coming assembly polls.