''We are looking for a third alternative '': Karat

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New Delhi, Dec 14 (UNI) Asserting that the operationalisation of the the Indo-US nuke deal could spell disaster for the UPA government, CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat has said his party was looking forward to the formation of a ''policy-based third alternative'' which would be different from the BJP and the Congress.

''CPI(M) looks forward to the formation of a third alternative in the country,'' said Mr Karat, who was named Newsmaker of the Year by India Today, in an interview to the magazine. ''But such an alternative cannot be seen purely as an alliance. We still strive to get a policy-based platform, which can be distinct from that of the BJP and the Congress,'' he added.

When asked if the party was prepared for elections in case the UPA government proceeded with the nuclear deal, Mr Karat said, '' If this is the issue they want to break up with us on, then all political parties need to be prepared for elections any time.'' To a query if the Centre's foreign policy tilt towards the US an irresolvable matter between the Left and the Congress, Mr Karat said the Left was not in favour of India forging an alliance with the US and expected the government to go by the Common Minimum Programme (CMP) which talked of pursuing a closer engagement and relations with the US but not a strategic alliance.

On why did the CPI(M) support the UPA government for three-and-half years given the ideological differences between them, the Communist leader said they supported the Congress-led coalition government on the basis of the CMP and a joint commitment to fight communalism. However, he admitted that there had been differences on economic policy.

Admitting that the Nandigram violence and the way it was projected in the media had ''caused some damage'' to the party's image, Mr Karat said, ''We are confident that when the full truth about what has happened there since Januray 2007 comes out , people outside West Bengal will also understand there has been a political combination to convert the issue into a struggle against the Left Front Governemnt.'' ''Eventually people will understand that Nandigram was not a strugle about land,'' the communist leader added.

On the CPI(M)'s agenda for the 19th party Congress to be held in Coimbatore in March next year, Mr Karat it will discuss the main questions the country and its people were facing along with possible alternative policies. '' We will critically review the work done since the last congress of 2005 and also discuss the perennial question of how to broaden the base of the party and strengthen its organisation.'' he added.

UNI

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