Friday, March 16, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Basu heads People’s Front
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 15
The erstwhile United Front was resurrected as the People’s Front today with the political climate hotting up following the withdrawal of support by the Trinamool Congress to the Vajpayee government, which is shrouded in the ‘arms deal’ video tape infamy.

The front did not rule out the possibility of extending support to the Congress in forming the government at the Centre if the Vajpayee government falls following the withdrawal of support by one of the crucial allies of the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA). The All-India Trinamool Congress, led by the fiery Ms Mamata Banerjee, has nine seats in the 545-member Lok Sabha.

The front, which claims to provide an alternative to the BJP and the Congress, would be headed by the veteran Marxist leader and former West Bengal Chief Minister, Mr Jyoti Basu, and the Samajwadi Party President, Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav, would be its convener.

Announcing the new front under the leadership of Mr Basu, leaders of four Left parties, the Samajwadi Party and Janata Dal (S) at a joint press conference here said it was mainly to fight the “anti-people” policies of the Vajpayee government.

In response to a question on the front’s relations with the Congress in case of an alternative to the Vajpayee government, Mr Basu said, “If they are not communal and agree to our common programme, then we will see.” Asked if the new front intended to topple the government which is facing a political turmoil over the alleged arms deal scam, CPI(M) General Secretary Harkishen Singh Surjeet said, “The government is going on its own. Let it go.”

He said, “When the time comes, the alternative will emerge.”

Hinting that NDA partners would not be barred from joining it, the leaders said the door was open for all secular parties and those who agreed with the common agenda of the front. Though the leaders did not spell out who all would be accepted in their front, CPI general secretary A. B. Bardhan said, “The doors are open for all those who agree with the agenda of the front. It’s an expanding front.”

Asked if the front was of the view that the NDA government should go, Mr Mulayam said, “The entire government is responsible and should go or the President should seek its resignation.”

“What Congress did in 45 years and got relegated to the background, this government did it in two years and that is unimaginable,” Mr Basu said, adding that the people’s movement against the government would have to be intensified. Stating that the NDA government had “landed in a disastrous situation” following the corruption scandal charges, Mr Basu said the Vajpayee government was “not just communal but was thoroughly reactionary .... Because of this government, our security is unsafe and the livelihood of the common people has been badly hit”.

“We are sorry that the United Front was disrupted and we have been scattered. But once again, we are coming together and all parties in the front should make efforts to get other secular parties into the fold,” Mr Basu said. About the election symbol of the front, Mr Surjeet and Mr Yadav said the parties have not been dissolved and, therefore, the symbols would be different.

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