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Third Front plans hit roadblock as Left moots alternative led by it

Friday 4 August 2006, by JHA*Ajay

New Delhi: Efforts of five regional parties to revive the defunct Third Front has hit a roadblock.

The Left Front yesterday remained cool to the idea even as both the ruling Congress party and the principal opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have expressed their reservations.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav and former Andhra Pradesh chief minister Nara Chandrababu Naidu, who head the Samajwadi Party and the Telugu Desam Party respectively, had on Thursday announced the formation of a non-Congress, non-BJP front of regional parties.

They claimed to have support of the Asom Gana Parishad, National Conference and the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and said they will seek the support of the Left Front in their mission.

They also said that the outcome in the Congress-ruled Assam would have a direct bearing on the fate of the proposed front. The ongoing assembly polls in Assam concluded with casting of votes in the second phase on Monday.

Incidentally, apart from the Samajwadi Party, the remaining four parties were part of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) that lost power at the centre in May 2004.

Fearing an exodus of its allies, the BJP yesterday said that formation of the Third Front would only help the Congress.

"The opposition slot is already occupied by the NDA. Where is the place for any other front," BJP spokesman Prakash Javadekar said.

The ruling Congress party that heads the 12-party Untied Progressive Alliance (UPA) was harsh terming these parties as insignificant. "Zeros don’t make a political front"; federal minister Ambika Soni said. Another federal minister Ram Vilas Paswan, who heads the Lok Janshakti Party, and was part of all such previous fronts, rejected the idea of the third front saying no front is possible without either the Congress or the BJP.

Paswan virtually echoed the general feeling that Indian polity over the past few years has moved towards a bipolar system between the Congress and the BJP. It is generally felt that all other parties even if they are united cannot form a government at the centre without the participation of one of the two major political forces.

Despite the Left’s apparent ambivalence to the idea, senior leader Abani Roy said any third alternative will have to be led by the Left itself.

The Left stand is seen as its desire to expand its base and influence and subsequently coerce these regional outfits to subscribe to their ideology and agenda, rather than being just a partner in any such initiative.

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