The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
Email This Page
Left pricks third-front balloon

New Delhi, Nov. 7: The CPM has thrown a wet blanket on George Fernandes and Chandrababu Naidu's efforts to revive the third front by refusing to play ball now.

A source said the CPM has put forward two conditions: first, the so-called secular parties now in the saffron camp should snap their ties with the BJP and second, they would have to remain under observation for two years after quitting the NDA. Much will depend on their conduct during these two years.

Over the past two days, NDA convener Fernandes, Telugu Desam Party chief Naidu and Janata Dal (United) leader Sharad Yadav held separate talks on reviving the third front. Naidu met two Asom Gana Parishad leaders here yesterday, but his overtures were rebuffed by Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh and Trinamul Congress' Mamata Banerjee.

Naidu had sent an emissary from Hyderabad to meet senior CPM leader Sitaram Yechury last month, but he had declined to meet him.

The third front proponents are trying to make it attractive for the Left by once again floating the names of Jyoti Basu and Chandra Shekhar, a former Prime Minister, as probable prime ministerial candidates.

The source said the Left camp believes the BJP is dangerous and deeply entrenched. It will take more time to de-fang the party and for the time being, it would be difficult to take on the BJP without the Congress' help.

'We would not bite the bait,' said a senior CPI leader, signalling that the Left is still suspicious of persons like Fernandes and Naidu.

The Left is also wary of Naidu's proximity with the World Bank and his support to reforms without a human face. 'He is a discredited man still enamoured of World Bank. He (Naidu) is feeling like a fish out of water. He is a political NPA (non-performing asset),' the CPI leader said.

Reacting to Fernandes' statements on the third front, Yechury, who was in Bhopal today, said: 'These talks are not for our consumption and we don't take it seriously as long as he holds the post. We know his game.'

Explaining the relationship between the Left and the United Progressive Alliance, he said: 'UPA is a train. Whenever it derails, we put it back on tracks and give it a push for the benefit of the people.'

Yechury added: 'Apart from keeping communal parties like the BJP away from power, we are here to ensure that the UPA government implements the CMP (common minimum programme).'

The third front enthusiasts are working on a gameplan to first launch a campaign against Sonia Gandhi and then topple the UPA government and instal a third front dispensation backed by the BJP from outside.

Fernandes is in touch with a host of leaders like Chandra Shekhar, the Janata Party's Subramanian Swamy, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Nirupam and the BJP's Uma Bharti. Except Uma, the group held a session at Fernandes' residence recently.

The NDA convener was also working on Amar Singh and his party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav, but they are of late keeping a distance for fear of alienating CPM general secretary Harkishen Singh Surjeet.

The third front thrust began after some BJP astrologers predicted that the UPA government would fall on September 26. The Opposition then pinned hope on Maharashtra elections, but there too the Congress and its allies came off with flying colours.

The NDA allies are panicky now after the turmoil in the BJP and its tussle with the Sangh parivar. A source said Naidu, in particular, is worried about the BJP's ability to lead the NDA to victory in future elections.

Email This Page