M A I N   N E W S

The Left leaves Cong guessing
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 14
Will there be a repeat of 2004? The Left parties, which may well again hold the key to formation of a new government, today kept the Congress managers guessing on their stand in an uncertain post-poll scenario.

With exit polls projecting a neck and neck race between the UPA and the NDA for the Delhi throne, senior Left leaders are understood to have discussed all possible situations they could face once the outcome of the elections is known.

However, these leaders were clear about achieving their main objective-that the BJP should not be allowed to come to power at any cost. CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechuri, meanwhile, condemned US Charge d’Affaires A Peter Burleigh’s meetings with BJP prime ministerial hopeful LK Advani and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief N Chandrababu Naidu, saying Washington was interfering in the internal political matters of the country.

The US embassy quickly denied the charge, clarifying that the meetings were routine in nature. There has been no attempt to interfere with the democratic processes in India, US Embassy sources said.

The Left parties said they would discuss the post-poll situation along with their allies on May 18. A day earlier, there will be a meeting of all the 4 Left parties.

Separate meetings of the CPM Politburo, CPI National Executive and the decision-making bodies of the RSP and the Forward Bloc were also scheduled almost simultaneously.

There is a strong section among Left parties which feels they should not repeat the mistake of 2004 when they provided outside support to a Congress-led dispensation that ultimately ditched them by going ahead with the N-deal.

In any case, the Left’s allergy towards the PM is all too well known. So far, there has been no serious discussion among the Left parties on what their stand should be. They want the Congress to propose some other name for the Prime Ministership to enlist their support.

Another opinion is that the Left parties should back a Third Front government by participating in it and seeking the Congress support to such a dispensation from outside.

One more possibility is that the Left parties could sit in the opposition instead of doing any business with the Congress. Ultimately, everything would depend on the numbers. CPM boss Prakash Karat and other Left leaders were dismissive of the exit polls conducted by different television news channels. These exit polls have always proved to be wrong, Karat told journalists outside the CPM headquarters.

The Left leaders acknowledged that their strength would come down from 61 in the new Lok Sabha but rejected the TV projections that it would decrease to 30-35 seats. “We are expecting nearly 50 seats,” a senior leader said on condition of anonymity.



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