Left extends helping hand to UNPA for a 'Third Front'

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New Delhi, Feb 26 (UNI) The United National Progressive Alliance(UNPA), which is struggling to consolidate itself as an alternative to the Congress and the BJP, today got a much needed boost when Left leaders offered to join in the efforts to evolve a ''third alternative''.

The Left intent to further the new front was declared at a rally and a dharna organised by the UNPA here on the farmers' issues.

They UNPA leaders also courted arrest on the issue.

''It was high time that a third alternative was in place to give a new direction to the country's policies, CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat said addressing the protestors.

He said the policies adopted by the UPA government were benefiting only the rich and big business houses and it were these classes which were influencing the policies of the country in turn.

Besides, Mr Karat, other Left leadesr like CPI's A B Bardhan and Sitaram Yechury of CPI(M) also addressed the rally.

Left leaders demanded that the upcoming budget should announce loans to small and medium farmers at a rate of four per cent.

Mr Yechury said though his party supported the government, it could endorse its anti-farmer policies.

''In fact we were acting as a correcting force in the Central government,'' he said.

Mr Bardhan said the farmers were not getting adequate prices for their produce and were trapped in debt, a situation that had forced them to commit suicide.

The rally was also addressed by Samajwadi Party Chief and UNPA chairman Mulayam Singh Yadav, TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu, INLD chief Om Prakash Chautala, Asom Gana Parishad chief Brindavan Goswami and Jharkhand Vikas Party chief Babulal Marandi.

They said the government had no concern with the problems of farmers who were committing suicides in dofferent parts of the country.

They demanded that the Swaminathan Committee report on agriculture be accepted and implemented immediately.

The leaders also wanted the government to waive all agricutural loans of farmers, saying they had become financially bankrupt roken due to damage of their crops by floods and droughts in different parts of the country and neglect of the farm sector in general.

The UNPA leaders said their fight for farmers' rights would continue and they would intensify their campaign in coming days.

Earlier in the day the UNPA leaders also tried to corner the ruling UPA on the issue inside Parliment when they stalled its proceedings protesting the government handling of the farmers' crisis.

UNI NAZ RL VC2032

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