The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Karat doesn’t mind a fling with Cong

Calcutta, April 16: Yesterday, Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee spoke of a possible post-poll alliance with the Left parties. Today, CPM politburo member Prakash Karat confirmed the likelihood.

Karat said “we are not ruling out any possibility”, including taking part in a Congress-led coalition at the Centre or supporting a Congress government from outside. “After the elections, we will take into account everything. Our main objective is to instal an alternative secular government. The Congress has supported the United Front government in the past,” Karat told a meet-the-press programme.

He said there is no way the Congress or any other party will get an absolute majority in the Lok Sabha. “So… the CPM MPs will play a vital and helpful role in forming the alternative government. No government will be formed without the support of the Leftists.”

A two-party system would not serve the country, said Karat.

Jyoti Basu echoed him. He has “no problem” with the party lending support to the Congress if it is short of a majority to form a government at the Centre. “The Congress is the biggest non-communal party and we are ready to help it form a government to keep the BJP and its allies at bay,” Basu said.

He also remembered the “historic blunder” the CPM committed in 1996 by not joining the government. “I still feel that the CPM should have joined the government in 1996. We missed a life-time’s opportunity to be part of the government at that time.”

Karat, however, did not fail to criticise Mukherjee, the state Congress chief and a member of its working committee, for bragging about his party’s role in formulating national policies. Mukherjee had said the Congress draws up the plans and “other parties follow” them. Karat said: “…those days are over.”

The CPM, which has fielded 72 candidates for the general elections, has said it would support the Congress in places where it is weak. “In Bengal, Tripura and Kerala we are fighting both the Congress and the BJP. In other places, we will support those who can help us defeat the BJP,” Karat said.

Across the state, 49 candidates of various parties filed their nominations today.

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