M A I N   N E W S

Third Front firms up, vows to drub UPA, BJP
11 parties join hands to present ‘democratic, secular’ alternative
Skip talk on PM candidate
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 25
Eleven political parties today promised to oust the Congress from the Centre and prevent the BJP from coming to power by offering themselves as an alternative to them ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

The grouping includes seven regional parties — AIADMK, AGP, BJD SP, JVM (Jharkhand Vikas Morcha), JD-U and JD-S — and four Left parties — CPI, CPM, RSP and AIFB. They decided to come together and present an alternative with a “democratic, secular, federal and pro-people development agenda”. They also asked other secular-democratic parties and forces to join the effort.

Making the formal announcement, CPM general secretary Prakash Karat, said: “It is time for a change and to throw out the Congress from power. The BJP, which claims to be the alternative, has no policies any different from those of the Congress. The BJP and communal forces must be defeated and prevented from coming to power.”

On the ticklish question of finding an acceptable leader as its Prime Ministerial candidate, the leaders said it would not be an issue. JD-U chief Sharad Yadav reminded that the parties had not encountered a problem in selecting Morarji Desai, VP Singh, Deve Gowda and IK Gujral.

It’s time for a change and to throw out the Congress. The policies of the BJP, which claims to be the alternative, are no different from the Congress. Communal forces must be prevented from coming to power. — Prakash Karat, CPM general secretary

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar ruled out going back to the BJP or supporting the Congress following the elections. SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav said his party had been most vocal against the Congress-led UPA in the current Lok Sabha. He sidestepped a question on his party having extended crucial outside support to the UPA government.

Even though the meeting was attended by Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, JD-U chief Sharad Yadav, his JD-S counterpart HD Deve Gowda and Samajawadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, the absence of Biju Janata Dal chief and Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik and Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) leader Prafulla Kumar Mahanta appeared to indicate differences.

Karat said while Mahanta could not attend as his mother was critically ill while Patnaik’s absence was attributed to a pre-occupation. As for Manpreet Badal's People's Party of Punjab, which attended the October 30 Convention Against Communalism in Delhi, Karat said the party was part of the grouping and was in talks. Manpreet is travelling abroad at present, he added.

However, sources in the Left said there were differences with these parties. A section of the AGP prefers the party tie-up with the BJP. In the case of the BJD, the party was unable to come to terms with the Left’s staunch opposition to the Posco steel plant project that has seen many protests in Odisha.





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