Ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections,an anti-communal formation is on the anvil with several political parties,including regional and Left,joining forces to fight the communal menace at a national convention next week.
Four Left parties have united with AIADMK,JD(U),SP,BJD,NCP,JD(S),Naga People’s Front,Sikkim Democratic Front,Jharkhand Vikas Morcha and RPI (Prakash Ambedkar) to participate in the October 30 ‘Convention Against Communalism and For Unity of People’,JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav and CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury said.
Yadav said “the effort is to bring together all non-Congress,non-BJP parties,who are against price rise and corruption of the present government and communalism”,while Yechury said the main objective was to “safeguard our secular and democratic foundations which are undergoing strain at this moment.”
Accusing the RSS-BJP of “sharpening communal divide” ahead of elections,Yechury said,”This cannot be allowed and that is our primary objective,” he said.
At least five Chief Ministers — Nitish Kumar from Bihar (JD-U),Akhilesh Yadav from Uttar Pradesh (SP),Neiphiu Rio from Nagaland (Nagaland People’s Front),Pawan Kumar Chamling from Sikkim (SDF) and Manik Sarkar from Tripura (CPI-M) are likely to attend the meet.
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Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa has written to Yechury expressing her inability to attend the gathering,but said she had deputed AIADMK parliamentary party leader M Thambidurai to attend and address the meeting,the CPI(M) leader said.
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik may also not attend the meet but depute a senior BJD leader for it.
Asked whether this platform would later take the shape of an electoral front later,Yechury said,”That is not the agenda now. We require a political alternative to implement alternative policies. Hamein neta nahin,neeti chaahiye (we don’t need leaders,but policies).”
Besides political parties,hundreds of leading intellectuals and organisations would be part of the convention against communalism.
The individuals include film maker Shyam Benegal,Gnanpeeth awardee U R Ananthamurthi,leading danseuse Mallika Sarabhai and eminent historian Irfan Habib.
The invitation letter for the meeting sent to political parties and others by Yechury makes the agenda amply clear.
It says: “Communal riots are increasing in the country. Communal forces are involved in fanning communal tension,which is provoking communal violence. The riots breaking out in Muzaffarnagar is a matter of concern for all of us. It has become necessary that democratic and secular forces reply to this challenge by coming together and maintain the unity of people and protect secularism”,adding that the convention was being organised to bring secular and democratic forces together.
JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav accused BJP of harming opposition unity on corruption,price rise and communalism.
Yadav’s party,formerly in the BJP-led NDA,has already formalised an alliance with CPI(M) and CPI in Rajasthan along with some other parties and with CPI and other parties in Chhattisgarh in the upcoming assembly polls.
He denied suggestions that JD(U),which had parted ways with BJP over projection of Narendra Modi,can come back to the NDA fold if Modi takes a back seat.
“All this is absurd. We parted ways on an issue of principle. It’s a different matter,if they change their principles. They (BJP) do not say it but their purpose is to divide the nation. Ever since the NDA broke up,the debate in the country has shifted to non-issues,” he said.