New Delhi, Feb. 3: The shadow of Mamata Banerjee seemed to loom in the background as a beaming Prakash Karat and Jayalalithaa announced a Lok Sabha poll alliance between their parties in Chennai today.
The pact is part of a CPM hunt for regional tie-ups countrywide to isolate Mamata and defeat her “federal front” plan.
At least till next summer’s poll results are announced, that is, after which a lot can change if Mamata wins more Lok Sabha seats than the Marxists. Or, as in the case of Jayalalithaa, the BJP comes calling to try and make up a small deficit.
The CPM had given up on third fronts after its 2009 experiment fell flat in the booths. But it revived the effort when Mamata made overtures to the Odisha and Bihar chief ministers after quitting the UPA in September 2012 and declared her plan for a non-Congress, non-BJP front.
Senior Left leaders quickly reached out to Naveen Patnaik, Nitish Kumar and other regional parties, sources said. They also tapped Mulayam Singh Yadav, who had broken up with Mamata over the July 2012 President’s election, when he did a U-turn after promising to oppose Pranab Mukherjee with her.
In 2009, the Left had partnered Mayawati, peeved with Mulayam’s support to the Congress over the Indo-US nuclear deal.
Nitish was initially not keen to join hands with the Left but came round after the Congress signalled its interest in aligning with Lalu Prasad.
The CPM’s desperation to woo the regional parties — to prevent them allying with Mamata — showed in its readiness to overlook the corruption taint on Jayalalithaa and her bonhomie with Narendra Modi not so long ago.
“We had an alliance with her in the last Assembly (polls) as well as the Lok Sabha elections,” stressed politburo member Sitaram Yechury.
“So far as the corruption cases against her are concerned, the law will take its course.”
Yechury said the seat adjustments with the regional parties should not be seen as the formation of a third front.
“All fronts take shape after the elections. As of now, these are state-level electoral adjustments. Front or no front would be clear only after the poll results are out,” he said.
The CPM and the CPI hope to achieve similar electoral pacts with the Janata Dal (United) in Bihar, Biju Janata Dal in Odisha and the Janata Dal (Secular) in Karnataka.
But Mamata can yet hope to elbow the Left out of this grouping if she does well in the summer elections.
Yechury denied that the CPM’s move was driven by its eagerness to isolate Mamata. “Alliances don’t fall from the sky; they are based on ground realities. The Left, for a long time, had been working with these parties,” he said.
He said the AIADMK —which sealed a pact with the CPI on Saturday — had chosen to ally with the Left because the communists had a good support base in Tamil Nadu.
Apart from the Mamata factor, the Marxists’ poor showing in Bengal too has driven the CPM to ally-hunting, because it knows it cannot retain its national relevance without a reasonable Lok Sabha tally.
In Chennai, AIADMK sources said the two Left parties would get two seats each out of the 40 available (39 in Tamil Nadu and one in Puducherry).