The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Three thorns in Congress side

New Delhi, Feb. 13: The Congress has publicly dismissed Prakash Karat’s “third front” blueprint as an “imaginative entity” but three factors have prompted the party to reassess the situation in private.

After the CPM leader brought Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav on board to sustain the campaign against the Centre’s foreign policy, there was reason to worry. “Things no longer appear to be what they are. Kuch khichchdi pak rahee hai (something is cooking),” a Congress source said.

Congress leaders listed three reasons why the Left’s support could no longer be taken for granted.

First, Karat reportedly does not have the rapport Harkishen Singh Surjeet, Sitaram Yechury and Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee share with the Prime Minister and Sonia Gandhi.

At a recent meeting, when Singh asked Karat why he was “sharpening” the contours of the Iran debate, the CPM leader reportedly responded with a stony silence.

The second factor is the Samajwadi Party. The sources said while Karat could be indulging Mulayam Singh to keep him from drifting towards the BJP, the CPM might also be willing to do business with the Samajwadi Party during the next polls.

Third, the government’s foreign and economic policies offer little scope for compromise. The sources said the government would take the stand that vital areas of governance were as non-negotiable with the Left as with Washington.

A “consolation” for the Congress is that given the numbers, a Left-led third front cannot make a difference in the present Lok Sabha without the BJP’s help.

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