Mamata launches new Front for elections in West Bengal

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Kolkata, Dec 30 (UNI) Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee today announced a new 16-party secular democratic alliance to take on the ruling CPI-M-led Left Front in the coming elections.

With the Panchayat elections in West Bengal scheduled for May 2008, Ms Banerjee declared the formation of Progressive Secular Democratic Front (PSDF) with 16 political parties.

But the fact remains that none of the parties other than her party have a political presence in West Bengal.

The Congress, which spearheads the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the Centre with outside support from the CPI(M) led Left Front, is significantly not part of the new political group.

" I declare the formation of PSDF to fight the atrocities of the CPI-M. We have seen how the CPI-M is making a mockery of democracy- whether it is in Singur, Nandigram or in cases like the death of Rizwanur Rahman. We will henceforth fight the CPI-M unitedly,'' she told reporters this evening.

Besides Trinamool Congress, PSDF includes Samajwadi Party (Mulayam Singh), Janata Dal (United), Janata Dal (Secular), Indian Union Muslim League, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) among others form the front. Some small communist parties are also part of the front.

"We have a steering committee and convenors and henceforth we will take all decisions jointly,'' Ms Banerjee said.

"Some parties don't believe in taking part in the people's struggles yearlong but go for local alliance when it comes to grabbing power in municipalities or boards. I make it clear that now onwards one has to negotiate with PSDF before entering into any such local adjustments,'' Ms Banerjee said, making a dig at the Congress without naming the party.

"We don't approve of any selfish politics,'' she said.

"We have agreed upon a common minimum agenda too. The Front will now officiate from the Trinamool Congress office,'' she said.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been kept outside Mamata's Front since the Trinamool leader is eyeing the huge Muslim votes in West Bengal, especially after the recent anger of the minority community against the ruling communists over Nandigram, Taslima Nasreen issue and Rizwanur Rahman case.

"We are for the people and we will fight to restore the democratic rights of people now usurped by the CPI-M," she said.


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