New Delhi, Oct. 15: The Left is trying to bring Jayalalithaa and Naveen Patnaik on one stage against Narendra Modi at an anti-communalism convention seen as an effort to cobble up a third front opposed to both the Congress and the BJP.
Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK and Naveen Patnaik’s BJD have confirmed participation at the Left-organised convention on October 30 in Delhi. But Left leaders are trying to ensure the two party bosses from the south and the east come in person.
Samajwadi chief Mulayam Singh Yadav has confirmed participation, as has Bihar chief minister and Janata Dal (United) spearhead Nitish Kumar. Jharkhand Vikas Manch chief and former BJP leader Babulal Marandi has also said he will attend.
But a lot of significance is being attached to the presence of Naveen and Jayalalithaa. Jayalalithaa, the AIADMK boss and Tamil Nadu chief minister, is known to share a good rapport with Modi and there is speculation her party could be a prospective BJP ally after next year’s general elections.
BJD chief Naveen had been part of the NDA till 2009 and the possibility of him returning to the BJP-led combine after the polls cannot be ruled out, observers said.
Left leaders believe if they can get the two to participate in the convention, it would be difficult for the duo to go with the BJP after the elections. CPM general secretary Prakash Karat is learnt to be personally in touch with the duo to get them to attend.
“Naveen Patnaik is keen but his participation has become uncertain after the cyclone. Jayalalithaa generally doesn’t participate in such conventions and sends her representative. But we are trying to get both of them,” a senior CPM leader said.
Key figures from other fields, such as filmmaker Shyam Benegal, lyricist Javed Akhtar and danseuse Mallika Sarabhai, are also scheduled to attend the convention at Delhi’s Talkatora stadium.
The convention is also seen as an attempt by the Left, trying to claw its way back after electoral setbacks in former bastions Bengal and Kerala, to maintain its relevance in national politics.
For regional leaders like Mulayam, Nitish, Naveen and Jayalalithaa, the meeting could offer them an opportunity to project themselves as potential leaders of a third front amid predictions that the 2014 elections would produce a fractured mandate.
“It is widely believed neither the Congress nor the BJP would have the numbers to form the government. Once that happens, any of these regional leaders could emerge as the prime ministerial choice,” said a CPM leader.