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On hold: Mulayam’s third front

Sept. 13: Akhilesh Singh Yadav’s Mission Impossible 5 — how to lunch with the Left and sup with Mamata — has been put on hold for now.

The man who did a Tom Cruise in the Uttar Pradesh elections and his father Mulayam Singh Yadav appear to have realised that some missions, unlike the four-part thriller on screen, could actually be impossible.

“The Left and Trinamul obviously cannot come on the same platform,” said a CPM MP. “Mulayam wants to keep his options open because he’s desperate to become Prime Minister.”

The Samajwadi Party chief capped the confusion on whether he would try and form a “third front” before the 2014 elections.

“We shall fight the Lok Sabha polls on our own strength without aligning with any parties. A decision on forming the third front will be taken after seeing the results of the polls,” he said today in Calcutta, where his party wrapped up a two-day national executive.

The statement virtually put a lid, at least for now, on Mulayam’s hopes of stepping into Harkishen Singh Surjeet’s shoes and crafting a “third front” coalition like the late CPM general secretary did with the United Front in 1996.

Asked about party general secretary Mohan Singh’s comment yesterday about the SP’s “traditional alliance with the Left”, Mulayam said: “I don’t know what Mohan Singh had said. But this is clear that we will not join hands either with the Left or Right parties before the elections.”

Singh had told reporters that Trinamul was an “important” regional party. “(But) in our difficult times, Harkishen Singh Surjeet and Jyoti Basu came to our help,” he said.

Mulayam’s assertion on contesting “alone” came two days after he had tried to reach out to Mamata.

On Tuesday night, when he reached Calcutta, he placed Mamata on the same pedestal as Basu, his one-time icon. “Both of them came to power after years of struggle and emerged as able leaders of this state,” he had said.

The praise didn’t move Mamata. A source close to the Bengal chief minister said she was “wary” of Mulayam after he let her down on the presidential election nominee.

Mulayam had opted to back Pranab Mukherjee for President instead of Mamata’s candidate, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.

Yesterday, Mamata chose to meet Akhilesh, in line with protocol, though the father too had wished to call on her.

Mulayam insisted there had “never been any bitterness with Mamataji and there never will be”, and said: “She is like my younger sister and I respect the way she works.”

“They had a one-hour fruitful meeting,” he added, referring to Mamata’s meeting with his son, who took over as Uttar Pradesh chief minister earlier this year after a spectacular sweep.

A CPM leader, who followed Mulayam’s statements in Calcutta, said: “We do not see the prospect of a third front in the existing circumstances. Mulayam can’t be trusted. He supported our stand on the coal scam, we welcomed that. We are not looking for anything beyond that.”

But CPM MP and central committee member Basudeb Acharya said: “Mulayam’s party is our long-time ally and we want him to be on our side because it was adopted at the Kozhikode party congress that we would collaborate with non-Congress and non-BJP forces. However, we have not yet worked out our strategy for the 2014 elections.”

Political sources said Mulayam’s desire to play the role of an architect of a non-Congress, non-BJP coalition had been blunted by three factors.

One, his blueprint was not underpinned by an ideology or a long-term programme.

Mulayam admitted it was “natural” to crave for the country’s top job because no politician was a “saint”.

“If Deve Gowda can become Prime Minister,” he said, “then why can’t I?”

Two, there was a perception that he was “too much of a Hindi belt politician, without a pan-Indian appeal”.

Third was his history of flip-flops.