Notwithstanding Narendra Modi's rising stature in the BJP, the major Left party has made it clear that it cannot support a secular Congress-led government which follows "neo-liberal policies".
"The prospects are bright for a non-Congress secular government and we will play our role to bring about such a government, if such a situation arises," CPI (M) General Secretary Prakash Karat told PTI in an interview.
65-year old Karat, who steered the Left campaign against UPA-I's nuclear deal with the United States and withdrawal of support on the issue, claimed as "bleak", the chances of UPA coming back to office for a third term.
"Both Congress and BJP may not be in a position to form the government," he said.
Mr. Karat was not impressed by Congress leader A K Antony's recent comments that the Left was "not untouchable", indicating it could do business with CPI(M) and other Left parties.
"As far as we are concerned, the policies being pursued by the UPA government are unacceptable. That is why we have called for the defeat of Congress and UPA," Mr. Karat said.
Asked about BJD chief Naveen Patnaik's comment that a Third Front was a "very healthy option", he said Patnaik has "expressed the need for an alternative which is necessary."
"As far as CPI (M) and the Left are concerned, we are looking for an alternative based on alternative policies.
Without an alternative policy platform, a Third Front is not feasible," the CPI (M) leader said.
He made it clear that the CPI (M) would fight the elections "together with Left parties. We may have some electoral understanding with some regional parties in states".
Asked whether secular forces would strive to ensure a secular government to counter Mr. Modi's projection by the BJP, he said, "If BJP projects Narendra Modi as their prime ministerial candidate, the message will go to the people that it will pursue a Hindutva agenda along with adherence to a pro-big business agenda. I am sure the people will not accept such a projection."
"While we will do everything to counter the communal forces, at the same time we would also like a government which does not follow neo-liberal policies.
"We cannot support a secular government which follows neo-liberal policies which are anti-people and against the interests of the country," Mr. Karat said.
Asked whether the Left would fight corruption or communalism in the next polls, Mr. Karat said, "We will be going into the elections to fight both BJP and Congress as corruption is the outcome of the neo-liberal policies pursued by both of them."
Mr. Karat gave indications that the Opposition would be launching a fierce attack on the government on the issue of alleged interference in the preparation of the CBI report to the Supreme Court on the coal mines allocation scam.
"The government will have to answer why the Law Minister tried to influence the CBI investigation in the coal blocks allocation case," he said.
Mr. Karat also said that the Left parties would want the adoption of the Lokpal Bill in the ongoing budget session of Parliament.
"We will strongly oppose any efforts to open up the insurance sector to more foreign capital," he said, adding that on the Land Acquisition Bill, "we have some basic objections" and demand that the measure be referred back to the Standing Committee or a Joint Select Committee.