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11 parties make a front

New Delhi, Feb. 25: Prakash Karat today declared the formation of a front comprising 11 parties to “defeat the Congress and the BJP”.

This was seen as a second attempt by the leader to step into the shoes of former general secretary Harkishen Singh Surjeet, who emerged the cementing force of the successful third front experiment.

“Leaders of 11 parties held a meeting and resolved to fight the Lok Sabha elections together,” Karat said, flanked by Nitish Kumar, Mulayam Singh Yadav and H.D. Deve Gowda, in a replay of the scenes witnessed ahead of the 2009 Lok Sabha elections.

Apart from the four Left parties, leaders of the SP, JD(U), AIADMK, JD(S) and JVM participated in the meeting and shared the stage.

Two prominent partners, BJD and AGP, remained absent but Karat said they were occupied and claimed their support for the resolution.

Karat had made a similar attempt ahead of the last Lok Sabha elections after the split with the Congress over the Indo-US nuclear deal but it fell flat after the results came out. The Congress-led UPA formed the government once again.

The CPM, thereafter, lost hope in the third front experiment, termed the regional parties “opportunistic” and decided comrades should spend energy to strengthen “Left and democratic” unity.

The CPM general secretary, however, has revived the effort seeking to sweep aside the past, hoping for a better prospect this time under the impression that the Congress was a badly battered force compared to 2009.

“It is time for a change and to throw out the Congress from power…The BJP and the communal forces must be defeated and prevented from coming to power,” Karat read out from a joint declaration adopted at today’s meeting at Tripura Bhavan.

Last time, BSP chief Mayawati was the darling of the front and projected as the prime ministerial candidate. This time there appears to be more than one in the race. AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa, SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and also Nitish Kumar.

“In my presence, she (Jayalalithaa) has said these matters would be decided after the polls,” Karat said.

On questions about the possibility of Mulayam drifting towards the Congress after the polls and Nitish returning to the NDA, the two leaders sought to deny it.

While Nitish made it clear that he would never ever associate with the BJP in any way, Mulayam kept the options open.

“I am against the Congress. I opposed the Congress most vociferously in Parliament,” Mulayam offered as assurance with a wry smile.