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Once-bitten Left gives up on front

New Delhi, Sept. 3: The CPM seems to prefer “isolation” to forging alliances with “unreliable” partners.

Stung by the “betrayals” of its former ally, the Samajwadi Party, the CPM high command has finally given up its efforts to cobble together one more third front that could take the place of the last one — the People’s Front. “We are not rushing to re-forge another People’s Front. From now on, we will extend issue to issue support to parties. There will be no front,” said CPM politburo member Prakash Karat.

The CPM central committee, at its last meeting in Delhi, laid down the new tactical line — the party was in no hurry to regroup third front partners. Instead, it will wait for a more “enduring” combination to emerge. “This will be on the basis of common policies,” said Karat.

Till then, the committee report stated, there will be floor coordination with other “secular bourgeois” parties inside Parliament and the party will extend its support to them on the basis of issues.

This marks a clear shift from the CPM’s earlier position after the collapse of the People’s Front on the eve of the presidential polls. Party general secretary Harkishen Singh Surjeet had then declared that a “new” People’s Front would soon be cobbled together.

The present change of tactics seems to have been prompted by the Samajwadi Party’s vacillation and its blunt rejection of the CPM as a “mediator” between Mulayam Singh Yadav and Congress president Sonia Gandhi. Till recently, it was either Surjeet or MP Somnath Chatterjee who tried to bridge the gulf between them.

But the presidential elections changed this equation. The Samajwadi Party and the Congress teamed up to back A.P.J. Abdul Kalam’s candidature while the Left fielded its own candidate. The estrangement deepened recently when the Samajwadi Party kept away from the dinner hosted by Chatterjee for the Opposition parties to discuss the Gujarat poll strategy.

To add salt to injury, the Samajwadi Party opened its own channel of communication with 10 Janpath. Mulayam’s deputy Amar Singh rebuffed the Left, saying his party did not need the Left’s “help” to work out an electoral arrangement with the Congress in Gujarat. “It is good that the Congress and the Samajwadi Party are talking to each other. We had always wanted the Samajwadi Party to communicate with the Congress,” said Surjeet, who had continued to befriend Mulayam regardless of reservations from a section within his party.

Karat said the present tactical line was the result of the Left’s experiences since 1996, when the CPM played a crucial role from outside in propping up the United Front government. The CPM believes regional parties are always guided by the political equations in their respective states rather than national interests. Before the Samajwadi Party ditched the Left, a host of other regional parties in the United Front — the Telugu Desam Party and the DMK — had switched sides to the NDA.

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