The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Left shelves third front resurrection

New Delhi, July 4: The Left has reconciled to the possibility that a third front may not be in the offing, at least not before next year’s Lok Sabha polls.

Left leaders, particularly CPM general secretary Harkishen Singh Surjeet, had, not so long ago, moved heaven and earth to stitch up an anti-BJP, anti-Congress third front.

“We are not making any moves to rebuild a third alternative,” said a Left leader.

CPM politburo member Prakash Karat believes a third front can only be forged on the basis of a common understanding on crucial issues like economic policies and secularism.

Surjeet, in an article in People’s Democracy, had written that his party and all other secular forces should think about supporting the Congress in the forthcoming Assembly elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Delhi.

Surjeet’s logic was clear: In all the four states, the BJP is the main adversary of the Congress and secular parties should help to push back the BJP.

Surjeet’s argument, however, may not find many takers within the Left Front itself. For instance, the Revolutionary Socialist Party has been opposed to any truck with the Congress on the ground that both the BJP and the Congress are pursuing the same economic policies.

The present political equations leave the Left Front with little scope to look for potential stable partners for a third front.

For the Left, especially the CPM, the nail was hit with Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav’s act of “betrayal”, when he refused to oppose President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam’s candidature. Mulayam backed the National Democratic Alliance in the presidential contest and walked out of the People’s Front, which was already in tatters.

The gulf between Mulayam and the Left will widen if the latter veers more and more towards the Congress to halt the BJP’s advance.

In 1997, the Samajwadi leader had put paid to the prospects of a Congress-led government at the Centre when he refused to back Sonia Gandhi, leaving the field clear for the BJP to step in.

The other third front stalwart, Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Laloo Prasad Yadav, has an ongoing feud with the CPI’s Bihar unit. The CPI’s central leadership is not very keen on having Laloo Prasad as part of a new third front.

The Left’s dalliance with the ADMK seems to be over for the time being and the Telugu Desam Party also appears to have swung out of the loop.

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