Congress still a secular force: A B Bardhan

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New Delhi, Feb 17: Asserting that the Left still treated the Congress as a secular force, the CPI today foresaw the participation of the ruling party in the projected secular democratic alternative to checkmate the BJP in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls. ''The Left is still looking forward to a secular-democratic set up which does not exclude the Congress,'' CPI leaders A B Bardhan and Shamim Faizi told the sources.

They said the Congress was still being treated as a secular force whose participation in the projected secular alternative was not ruled out. ''We feel that the situation is as such that danger from the saffron party cannot be discounted.'' On Left's commitment to prevent the saffron party from staging a comeback at the Centre, they elaborated that in states like Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, the Left would invariably have direct or indirect electoral adjustments with the Congress during the 2009 polls.

Virtually dumping the idea of revival of the Third Front or the third alternative, the CPI leaders said they had ''genuine apprehensions'' about the policies and programmes of the UNPA parties as when they were in power either in Uttar Pradesh or Andhra Pradesh, they implemented the new economic policies pursued by both the NDA and the UPA.

On new electoral alliances and adjustments in the Hindi heartland, Mr Bardhan, the veteran Communist and CPI General Secretary, said his party for example would have seat adjustments with the RJD of Lalu Prasad in Bihar and the Samajwadi Party of Mulayam Singh Yadav in UP.

To a specific query, Mr Bardhan said his counterpart in CPI(M) Prakash Karat's participation in the farmers rally, being organised by the UNPA here on Feb 26 was not an indication towards the process of ''realignment'' of the political forces.

Mr Faizi, CPI national Secretary and the editor of the party weekly New Age, said the CPI(M) was also looking for partners in Rajasthan and Haryana. The CPI(M) had once won a parliamentary seat from Rajasthan and the CPI, which had been traditionally with the Congress, was looking for an alliance with a party that could ensure at least one seat from Punjab.

He said that apart from their presence in West Bengal, Tripura and Kerala, the Left expected to raise their tally from the North-East. ''The CPI will defintely bid for a seat from Manipur whereas both the Communist parties would look forward to an alliance with the AGP in Assam to get at least one seat from there.

''The real problem is in the Hindi heartland where the CPI and the CPI(M) would like to contest at least four seats, including Bhagalpur, which was once won by the CPI(M),'' said the Left leaders, adding that presently, this seat was represented by the BJP.

''If that knot was not unfolded, the Communist parties would be having adjustment with the RJD of Lalu Prasad,'' they said.

In Jharkhand, the CPI had won Hazaribagh defeating the then Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha. ''We would like to have broader seat adjustments with the CPI(M), RJD and JMM to retain this seat.'' But the CPI(M) wanted to have a winnable seat either from Bihar or Jharkhand, they said, adding that in UP, both the Communist parties would have seat adjustments with Mulayam Singh Yadav but preferably in a grand alliance that included the Congress.

UNI

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