| CPM general secretary Prakash Karat and RSP leader Kshiti Goswami trip on the stage before the start of a convention against communalism at Talkatora stadium in New Delhi on Wednesday. Picture by Prem Singh |
New Delhi, Oct. 30: Nitish Kumar today called for the “widest possible” unity of democratic forces to counter communalism from a Left-sponsored stage that saw leaders of 14 political outfits coming together to explore the possibility of a front to counter the rise of the Narendra Modi-led BJP.
The convention was seen as an effort to resurrect the third front but Nitish appeared to be underlining the need for a much wider political unity that was seen as an indication towards the Congress.
“Today there is no political front. But we have to think if we want to fight communalism. Unity of democratic forces to the extent possible should be explored. All practical steps should be taken for the widest possible unity,” Nitish said reiterating that he was ready to make any sacrifice to fight the communal forces.
Nitish, a day after he tore into Narendra Modi, appeared to have taken up the task of exploring ways to stop his rival from coming to power whom he termed unfit to become the prime minister.
He shared the stage with SP boss Mulayam Singh Yadav and representatives of powerful regional outfits like Jayalalithaa-led AIADMK, Naveen Patnaik’s BJD. Nitish appeared to be the star of the show as he earned huge applause from the crowd, mostly Mulayam supporters fetched from the neighbouring UP.
Apart from the four Left parties 10 other regional outfits — SP, JD(U), BJD, AIADMK, JD(S), AGP, RPI, JVM, PPP and UPA-constituent NCP — gathered for the convention.
Nitish today equated terrorism with communalism while referring to the bomb blasts in Patna targeting Narendra Modi’s rally similar to what Congress scion Rahul Gandhi had stressed recently in his public speeches in poll-bound Rajasthan.
“Communalism and terrorism feed each other. Those who triggered the Patna blasts, whom did they want to benefit?” Nitish asked and went to give the answer. “They strengthened the communal forces”.
The BJP has repeatedly charged Nitish of skirting away from referring to threat posed by terrorism and said it was driven by vote bank politics.
Nitish said “terrorism, fascism and communalism” were interlinked and the trio has to be fought with a wider unity of democratic forces.
Nitish asserted that he was ready to make any sacrifice. He said he was aware that he had taken a big risk by snapping ties with the BJP but added that he was ready to face the consequences.
“We knew that we are taking a big risk. We are not gambling (by snapping ties with the BJP). Whatever the consequences are, we will face it,” he said posing a brave front.
Seeking to project himself as leading from the front in fighting the communal forces he said the BJP’s bullets aimed at him would rebound as he was a solid rock.
“Sitaram Yechury said I am in the firing line of communal forces. Let them fire. I am such a solid rock that the bullets will hit and return to hit them back,” Nitish said amid huge applause from the crowd gathered in the Talkatora auditorium.
Though, the Left, particularly the CPM, projected the show as a convention of non-Congress and non-BJP parties, most of the leaders refrained from attacking the Congress and pinned their attack against the RSS-BJP.
CPI’s A.B. Bardhan, too, indicated towards including the Congress, without naming it, in the fight against communalism.
“There are many parties who are not present here but that does not mean they are communal…We have to get them too. Everybody is welcome to fight against communalism,” Bardhan said.
The general perception was that the shape of a political front depended on the numbers thrown up by the 2014 elections.
Given the stress on stopping the communal forces from coming to power the option of aligning with the Congress to achieve that remained open.