Left, secular parties' bid to form third front

Left, secular parties' bid to form third front

Left, secular parties' bid to form third front

Led by the Left, at least 14 non-Congress secular parties came together at a joint convention on Wednesday and made a fresh bid to forge a front to fight the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party, ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

Though most of the leaders, except Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, avoided a straight attack, all the leaders who attended the anti-communalism convention, expressed their willingness to join hands against the “Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh design of dividing the nation” and uphold pluralism”.

The four left parties - CPM, CPI, RSP and Forward Bloc - apart, all important regional players except the Trinamool Congress, DMK, BSP and the TDP, attended the convention. Parties that participated in the convention included Samajwadi Party (SP), Janata Dal-United (JD-U), Biju Janata Dal (BJD), AIADMK, Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S), Republican Party of India (RPI), Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (JVM), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the People’s Party of Punjab (PPP).

Nitish refrained from making any reference to third front but stressed the urgency to forge some sort of alliance on issues to “fight against communalism, terrorism and fascism.”

He emphasised the need for “possible and practical unity”. He said, “today we are here on one issue, but we will have to think on possible and practical unity on different issues. We should have coordination and cooperation among us,” he said.

JDS leader and former prime minister H D Deve Gowda recalled his efforts to restore communal amity in Karnataka during his tenure as chief minister. CPM General Secretary Prakash Karat said Modi has been claiming to be a “Hindu nationalist” to divide the people along communal lines. He also attacked RSS for its call to Hindus to have children to increase their population. CPI leader A B Bardhan took a dig at plans to ensure Sardar Patel’s statue is the tallest in the  world and said, RSS had committed not to participate in politics.

Meanwhile, the Congress on Wednesday downplayed the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) presence at the anti-communal conference convened by Left parties, which is considered to be a precursor to an anti-Congress grouping ahead of the Lok Sabha elections in 2014.

Senior leaders in the All India Congress Committee (AICC) also did not appear worried over the coming together of “secular” parties, contending that it would only strengthen the campaign against communal forces led by BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.

“Our alliance with the NCP is in Maharashtra and at the Centre. In other states, they fight their political battle separately. We have full respect for what they do,” Congress spokesman Raj Babbar said at the AICC briefing.

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