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Spurned by Mayawati, Left parties look for allies in NDA

Spurned by Mayawati, Left parties look for allies in NDA
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First Published: Wed, Jan 14 2009. 11 37 PM IST

 Electoral strategy: (L to R) CPM’s Pinarayi Vijayan, Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, Prakash Karat and V.S. Achuthanandan in Kochi. The CPM has issued a statement seeking ties with non-Congress, non-BJP part
Electoral strategy: (L to R) CPM’s Pinarayi Vijayan, Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, Prakash Karat and V.S. Achuthanandan in Kochi. The CPM has issued a statement seeking ties with non-Congress, non-BJP part
Updated: Wed, Jan 14 2009. 11 37 PM IST
New Delhi: Disappointed over Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati’s unwillingness to strike a pre-poll alliance, the Left parties, led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist), or CPM, are exploring new electoral allies, especially from among the constituents of opposition National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
Electoral strategy: (L to R) CPM’s Pinarayi Vijayan, Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, Prakash Karat and V.S. Achuthanandan in Kochi. The CPM has issued a statement seeking ties with non-Congress, non-BJP parties. PTI
If successful, this strategy would enable the Left parties to reduce their dependence on the BSP and, at the same time, also whittle down the NDA, which is led by the Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP.
Left leaders, who privately admit that they were miffed with the Uttar Pradesh chief minister over her refusal to enter into an electoral alliance or a formal seat-sharing arrangement, say that there would be a joint statement by the possible allies of the third front ahead of the 2009 Lok Sabha elections.
Interestingly, the BSP, which was expected to be a major component of the projected third alternative, would not be part of it, said CPM leaders.
“Although the Left was keen to form an alliance with the BSP, Mayawati is not ready for it. We will be fighting against each other in states. We will just have an understanding with the BSP that we could work together to form an alternative to the Congress and the BJP in the post-poll scenario,” said a senior Left leader, who requested anonymity.
Some of the Left leaders— including Communist Party of India, or CPI, general secretary A.B. Bardhan—had projected Mayawati as the prime ministerial candidate of a third front government.
“We are talking about having political alliances for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls with various parties in different states,” said CPM politburo member Sitaram Yechury.
After the recently concluded three-day central committee meeting, the CPM issued a statement saying that the Left parties, along with the secular parties, should work together for the formation of a government which would be an alternative to the Congress party and the BJP.
“For this, the CPM appeals to all the non-Congress secular parties to come together on a platform of defence of secularism, pro-people economic policies and an independent foreign policy,” the statement said.
The CPM and the CPI have already announced electoral understanding with the Telugu Desam Party and the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam—the main opposition parties of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, respectively.
Another politburo member, S. Ramachandran Pillai, said: “There is a possibility (of getting new allies from the NDA). There are rifts in the NDA. We are keen to join hands with all the non-BJP, non-Congress parties.”
According to another party leader, who did not want to be identified, the CPM has already approached Orissa’s ruling Biju Janata Dal, or BJD, and Bihar’s ruling party, Janata Dal (United), or JD(U).
Leaders from both parties, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said there had been serious differences between them and the BJP.
“We are not averse to the idea of joining the third front. Nothing can be ruled out in the post-poll scenario,” a senior JD(U) leader said.
But, a BJD member of Parliament (MP) pointed out that a formal electoral alliance with the Left might not be possible as the communists do not have a substantial presence in the state. Both the CPM and the CPI have one member of legislative assembly each in Orissa’s 147-member assembly.
In Bihar’s 243-member assembly, the CPI has three seats and the CPM has one. Both together won almost 3% of the total votes polled in the October 2005 assembly elections.
While the CPM had won 43 Lok Sabha seats in the 2004 parliamentary elections, the CPI won 10, the JD(U) eight and the BJD 11 seats.
Bhartruhari Mahtab, BJD MP from Cuttack, did not see “any ground” for breaking up his party’s 11-year association with the NDA. “The BJP and the BJD are very much in alliance in Orissa. Bardhan—who was in Bhubaneswar recently—has floated this idea, saying that the BJD could join the third front after coming out of the NDA. But I do not think any serious thoughts have gone into it,” Mahtab said, adding, “Political situation is fluid. But I do not see any ground for breaking up the alliance for the time being.”
Political analyst Bidyut Chakrabarty, a professor in the department of political science at Delhi University, said nothing can be ruled out in Indian politics.
“Political compatibility is the first casualty when it comes to efforts for mustering the magic number (for majority in the Lok Sabha to form the government). So, ideological differences (between the Left and other parties in the NDA) may not be an issue,” he said.
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First Published: Wed, Jan 14 2009. 11 37 PM IST