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Third front will make India third rate: Modi

Calcutta/Patna, Feb. 5: Narendra Modi today launched a blistering attack on a possible Third Front, saying such an alliance would make India a “third rate” country and people should banish them from politics forever.

Addressing a large rally here, he reserved his fire for the Left parties and their associates trying to form a Third Front, saying whenever elections are around the corner, they start talking about secularism and the poor and mislead Muslims by practising vote-bank politics.

“Let the Third Front see which way the wind is blowing. BJP will form the government after the Lok Sabha elections,” he told a crowd of over 1.5 lakh people at the Brigade Parade ground.

“The idea behind the Third Front is to make India a third-rate country…. The eastern Indian states have remained backward, as the third front parties have ruled them sometime or the other. The time has come to bid farewell to this idea of Third Front from Indian politics forever,” said Modi.

Modi's attack assumes significance in the context of 11 non-Congress and non-BJP parties today formally joining hands in Delhi to form a block in Parliament on an anti- communal and a federal agenda. The front includes four Left parties, including CPM and CPI, Samajwadi Party, JD(U), AIADMK, AGP, Jharkhand Vikas Morcha, JD(S) and BJD.

Tamil Nadu chief minister J. Jayalalithaa, who shares a good equation with Modi, has taken the lead in stitching an alliance with the CPI and CPM in Tamil Nadu, which could be a precursor to their coming together on an all-India plank to fight the Congress and BJP.

In Patna, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar rejected the BJP’s claim about a “hawa (wind)” blowing in favour of the party’s prime ministerial nominee.“Woh apni duniya mein jee rahe hain. Woh atmkatha likh rahe hain (He — read Narendra Modi — is living in his own make-believe world. He is writing his autobiography),” the Bihar chief minister said.

Nitish said efforts to form a Third Front were still on. “The JD(U) is a party to the efforts of several other parties in creating a non-BJP and non-UPA block in Parliament. The efforts are based on a common minimum programme. It is not centred on an individual or individuals,” he said, adding that more rounds of talks would take place to give final shape to a fresh front.

In his maiden public rally in Calcutta, Modi though was soft on Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and tried to convince her that the state can realise her dream of Bengal’s growth and development if she has a friendly government at the Centre.

“For a real change in Bengal, the state government is not enough. You also need help from Delhi,” said Modi, pitching himself as the potential Prime Minister of the next government at the Centre.

The stress on a proper Centre-state relationship for the progress of Bengal is significant as Mamata and her cabinet colleagues have blamed the Congress-led UPA government of not releasing funds for the state’s development.

Although he did not talk about any possibility of a coalition with Trinamul, the Gujarat chief minister took care to explain that he needed support from Bengal before promising all possible help from the Centre if BJP’s Mission 272+ is achieved.

“If West Bengal accepts the BJP, I promise that I will fill up all the potholes created in the last 60 years,” said Modi, which made it clear that he had come to Calcutta to woo Mamata. He was equally careful during his last visit to Calcutta in April 2013 — when he addressed the members of the chambers of Commerce — as he had steered clear of comparisons between Gujarat and Bengal and criticised the Left for its 34-year misrule.

However, by soft-pedalling on Mamata, Modi has reopened the question what she will do after the general election. In the run-up to the polls, Mamata would not like to be seen as a potential ally of the BJP. The Left has been asking Mamata to clear the air on her stand on the NDA.

Besides attacking the concept of the Third Front, Modi singled out the Left Parties, holding them responsible for Bengal’s decline during their 34-year-rule, which has been a pet theme of Mamata.

The Gujarat chief minister spoke about non-availability of round-the-clock power supply in Bengal and lack of toilet facilities in girls’ schools (only 60 per cent according to Modi) as he focused on some social indicators to establish Bengal as a laggard state.

His claims, however, could not be corroborated. Latest reports on power sector suggest that Bengal is a power surplus state and power is available 24x7 to the consumers, unlike in Gujarat where farmers can access power only for 12 hours a day. Education department sources said that over 82 per cent schools in the state had separate toilets for girl students.