CPI(M)'s response notwithstanding; Third Front remains pipedream

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New Delhi, Feb 13 (UNI) The formation of the proposed 'third alternative' appears to be a distant dream despite the CPI(M) leadership's exuberant response to the idea though other Left parties still express certain reservations.

While the CPI asked UNPA parties to declare their clear-cut stand on the new economic liberalism and the US imperialism, the RSP and the Forward Bloc, emphasising the need for such an exercise, said the first step would be to cement Left unity.

The revival of the third alternative has been in the news for quite some time with CPI(M) patriarch Jyoti Basu saying the party's efforts to forge a third alternative were on and its General Secretary Prakash Karat was holding talks with non- Congress constituents of the UPA besides other secular and democratic parties regarding this.

Mr Karat also said in Kolkata yesterday that the CPI(M) was in the process of forming a third alternative in national politics with its policies. He is also reported to have disclosed that the concrete shape to the alternative would be given at the party's Congress to be held in Coimbatore in March- April.

CPI leaders A B Bardhan and Shamim Faizi told UNI that as far as the concept of an alternative was concerned, the CPI was very clear that it had to be a programme-based alternative.

''But on mass issues, the Left will cooperate with other political forces, including the UNPA,'' they added.

The CPI leaders said in the context of the farmers' rally on February 26 here on problems faced by the peasantry, the Left has no hesitation in joining forces with parties taking up farmers' issues, but the rally cannot be treated as the first step towards bulding a third alternative.

''For that, more clarity on the economic and other issues is needed -- particularly on economic globalisation. When the UNPA parties were in power, they did not hesitate in implementing those very policies which the Left opposed tooth and nail,'' they said.

However, Mr Surendra Mohan, Janata Dal(S) breakaway group Chairperson, claimed that ''the SP, TDP, INLD, NC and Babu Lal Marandi's party in Jharkhand -- all are coming together to build the Third Front. They hope to get the full support of the Left parties''.

Stating that they had already held several rounds of discussions with the Left leaders, Mr Mohan, an eminent socialist and an ideologue, said his party would also join the Front. He said the CPI(M) had told them that there should be a consensus on various policies which could become the basis of their mutual cooperation.

He referred to the farmers' rally to be addressed jointly by Mr Karat and Mr Bardhan, and went to the extent of saying that ''the rally will be an expression of solidarity of the Third Front''.

Mr Mohan, however, agreed that the UNPA parties had yet to come out with a broad framework of the policies they would pursue in case voted to power in the 2009 general elections. Besides, on the issues of globalisation and US imperialism they had not taken a contradictory position. ''But they have definitely distanced themselves from the NDA.'' On the repetition of the National Front in 1989 and the United Front experiments, he said that would not happen this time as in the NF case it was dependent on BJP support and in the UF case it was dependent on Congress support." This time their support will not be necessary as the UNPA and the Left parties will get a majority on their own.'' Forward Bloc National Secretary G Devrajan said the whole exercise was being conducted to reach the ultimate goal of an alternative to both the Congress and the BJP.

''The UNPA rally is the right step in the right direction. We hope it will lead to a platform of the Left, democratic and secular forces,'' he added.

RSP leader and Rajya Sabha MP Abani Roy stressed that while the Third Front was the need of the hour and a ''must necessity'', Left unity had to be strengthened first.

He said the parties like the SP, TDP and other regional ones were undoubtedly the potential partners in such an exercise, but asserted that the Front would have to be built on the basis of joint mass struggles on the peoples' issues.

UNI KSA RL HT1658

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