As 11 parties on Tuesday came together to start talks for an “alternative front”, the party that was conspicuous by its absence was the Biju Janata Dal (BJD). Skirting the issue of a prime ministerial candidate and choosing not to give a formal name to the alliance yet, 11 non-Congress, non-BJP parties on Tuesday resolved to form a “democratic, secular, federal and pro-people” alternative to fight the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls together.
Though BJD chief Naveen Patnaik had committed to the Left Front leaders about his willingness to join the meeting, he kept away leading to speculation that BJD was doing a rethink on its earlier position. “It’s too early for us,” said Naveen.
BJD insiders said Naveen was wary of getting too close to the new front as he was not convinced of such a front taking off. Although BJD believed in being part of a non-BJP and non-Congress front, party sources said the rising popularity of Narendra Modi has forced a rethink in the party’s stand on being part of such a group.
Asom Gana Parishad chief Prafulla Mahanta too gave the meeting a miss even as CPM general secretary Prakash Karat said said both AGP and BJD had been consulted and they had given their support. Both the parties had been part of the BJP-led NDA earlier.
After an hour-long meeting attended by top leaders of the parties – AIADMK, SP, Jharkhand Vikas Morcha, CPI, Revolutionary Socialist Party, JD(U), JD(S), CPM and Forward Bloc – a joint declaration was issued. “It is time for a change and to throw out the Congress from power…The BJP and the communal forces must be defeated and prevented from coming to power,” the declaration said.
The parties made it clear that this did not necessarily mean an electoral alliance among them. On being asked if the JD(U), that had been in a coalition with the BJP, could go back to its former ally, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar said there was “no possibility of any relationship with the BJP”. Meanwhile, SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav said more parties could join in later. “We are 11 now, it may become 15 tomorrow,” he said. On the issue of a PM candidate, they said it would be discussed only after the elections.
Later in the day, JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav told The Indian Express that the alternative is sustainable because the “mandate of the people is more with the regional parties than the two (Congress and BJP)”.
‘New fronts only to help Cong’
NEW DELHI: With leaders of non-BJP, non-Congress parties meeting in the capital to forge a new front, the BJP on Tuesday dismissed the attempt as a “scattered morcha”, accusing these parties of assisting the Congress to stop Narendra Modi-led BJP from coming to power at the Centre.
“This is not a third front but a ‘bikhra (scattered) morcha’. Be it third front or AAP’s fourth front, their idea is to help Congress. Voting for them means voting for Congress. This third front or fourth front in the form of AAP are proving to be a Congress front just to stop Modi from coming to power… But they have failed miserably in their efforts,” BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said.
The BJP also condemned Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde’s outburst against the media, saying it reflected the Congress’s “dictatorial” mindset. ENS