In order to drum up support for a third front ahead of the next Lok Sabha elections,Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav was in Tamil Nadu on Monday.
His visit seemed to be in line with the ambitions of SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav,and in keeping with the plan charted out by the PMK that hosted the UP Chief Minister.
Akhilesh also called on Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa,the leader of AIADMK,who commands influence over 39 LS seats and also has the political flexibility to offer post-poll support to any formation at the Centre. However,emerging from the meeting with Jaya,Akhilesh refused to comment on what had transpired in those 30 minutes.
Originally scheduled to take part in the annual Chithirai Thiruvizha youth cultural meet organised by the PMK later this week,his itinerary was rescheduled and Akhilesh inaugurated it at a function held here.
The SP believes that there should be a third force… The Congress and BJP have not fulfilled their promises. Their policies are not pro-poor. The Congress,the BJP and their allies have failed on many fronts. Opportunity is there for a third force, Akhilesh told the media after landing here.
When asked about his partys relationship with the UPA,Akhilesh said it was a mixed bag,adding: We are with the government. We are co-operating with the government. But the government is not cooperating with us.
The FICCI and CII have chosen their prime ministerial candidates. But it is for backward sections to decide the (PM) candidate, he said,taking a dig at Gujarat CM Narendra Modi and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi,widely held to be the prime ministerial candidates of the alliances they lead.
As a political force,the SP has a token presence here a fact Akhilesh unhesitatingly admitted. However,this has not prevented the PMK from choosing the young Chief Minister as a poster boy in its efforts to regain the political space it lost after two electoral defeats.
The PMKs plan is to consolidate intermediary castes who form powerful social and political bloc,but whose patronage is scattered across parties. This is not very different from what the SP has managed to do in Uttar Pradesh a model the PMK is keen to adopt.