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A blow to Karat plans

New Delhi, March 6: Jayalalithaa’s rejection has left the comrades licking their wounds, the snub being viewed as a body blow to CPM general secretary Prakash Karat’s much-hyped third front efforts.

Karat had taken the lead in trying to form a non-Congress, non-BJP front with the help of regional outfits.

His effort was being seen as a bid to step into the shoes of predecessor Harkishen Singh Surjeet, who had been the pivot around whom the United Front had revolved in the late 1990s.

CPM leaders said Karat was desperate to be seen as the architect of an “alternative front” to defeat the “corrupt” Congress and the “communal” BJP. He had made a similar attempt in 2009 but failed.

Karat revived the effort despite a review by the party that held that the 2009 venture was a “miscalculation”.

Two weeks ago, a preening Karat, flanked by leaders from regional parties including Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK, had announced that 11 parties had joined hands to fight the Lok Sabha elections together. That vaunted unity was in tatters today.

The AIADMK has rebuffed the Left’s offer of seat-sharing, so has Naveen Patnaik’s Biju Janata Dal in Odisha.

The Samajwadi Party, led by Mulayam Singh Yadav, a longstanding “secular” friend of the Left, has made it clear that it would contest all the 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh.

CPM leaders appeared not too eager to take phone calls today. CPI general secretary Sudhakar Reddy, however, said that the AIADMK chief’s rejection was “not a blow” to the Left’s effort on the national scale.

“The unity of the non-Congress, non-BJP parties has nothing to do with state-level alliances. It is on the national level,” Reddy said.

Asked whether the AIADMK could now dissociate itself from the national alliance, the CPI leader said: “It is her choice.”

In 2009, Karat and other Left leaders had sought to project Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati as the front’s prime ministerial candidate. This time Jayalalithaa was deemed to hold that position.

For the Left, the twin motives behind rallying the regional parties were to isolate Mamata Banerjee and pick up Lok Sabha seats in alliance with powerful regional parties to offset the losses in Bengal.

The Left seemed to have achieved the first objective when a lonely-looking Mamata was seen joining hands with social activist Anna Hazare.

Now, none of the parties in the grouping seem ready to enter into a seat-sharing arrangement with the Left.

All of them are looking to win as many Lok Sabha seats as they can and decide their stand after the polls, based on their tallies.