The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Snub to Cong in hug for Desam

Hyderabad, June 11: The CPM today tied up with the Telugu Desam Party for the June 28 state panchayat polls over Congress protests, sending its central ally a stern signal amid the fuel price standoff.

The alliance in 12 of the state’s 23 districts ends the Marxists’ eight-year separation from N. Chandrababu Naidu, during which the former “Andhra CEO” was reviled as much for his “World Bank-dictated” economic policies as for his partnership with the “communal” BJP.

It also represents a snub from the CPM, buoyed by recent Assembly poll success, to the Congress whose government at the Centre it has propped up for two years despite serious differences over economic and foreign policies.

The CPM has also drafted Desam into its planned “mass agitation” against the Centre on the fuel price hike.

As he announced the tie-up, CPM state secretary B.V. Raghavulu hinted that bigger things lay ahead. “The joint action platform with the non-Congress and non-BJP parties will become a precursor to the grand third alternative of the Left parties,” he said.

The first contours of the new alignment appeared on Friday when, after a long discussion with CPM general secretary Prakash Karat, Naidu agreed to give up the Khammam and Nalgonda zilla parishads to the Marxists.

The news brought state Congress chief K. Keshav Rao running to Karat, but he was in for a bigger shock.

“I think my state committee has taken a correct decision. We have to build our cadre and the institution. The party is more important to us,” Karat told Rao.

The Congress made a last-ditch attempt yesterday, offering the Nalgonda zilla parishad, but in vain.

A delighted Naidu claimed his party had at last shed the stigma of communalism.

“The TDP had always remained secular and fought against the imposition of Hindutva by the BJP,” he said.

The CPM, however, has reminded Naidu that he is on probation. “Naidu left us when he was United Front convener. He chose to co-exist with the BJP and adopt World Bank reforms,” Sitaram Yechury had said on Friday.

“Naidu has to explain whether there has been any change in his economic policies,” added Nilotpal Basu.

Naidu says he backed reforms and privatisation as vehicles of development and points to the Bengal government’s policies.

Estranged ally Telengana Rashtra Samiti today got a “surprise” call from the Congress for talks on the polls.

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