New Delhi : Senior Janata Dal (U) leader Sharad Yadav has claimed that the third front comprising 11 non-Congress and non-BJP parties should not be described as the third front. ‘‘Now that we have united it is actually the first front,” he asserted after a meeting of these parties, which skirted the issue of the prime ministerial candidate.
Briefing reporters after the meeting, CPM general secretary Prakash Karat made it obvious that on this critical issue of prime ministerial candidate the veto power rests with the AIADMK supremo and Tamli Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa. ‘‘She told us that no political party should raise this matter now, these are issues which we will discuss later,” he said.
This is an indication that the third front expects the AIADMK to emerge as the largest contingent within it. Interestingly, this assertion came even as Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar and the Samajwadi supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav attended the meeting.
However, Biju Janata Dal’s chief and Orissa chief minister Naveen Patnaik and Assam Gana Parishad chief Praful Mahanta did not turn up: Karat told reporters that Patnaik has endorsed the joint declaration while Mahanto could not reach as his mother is critical in Assam. Jayalalitha sent party MP Thambi Durai to the meeting as her representative.
When Karat was asked about the possibility of Nitish Kumar joining hands with the BJP after the polls, especially if it decides to anoint somebody other than Modi as the prime minister, the CPM leader shot back: “There is no question of that happening.” JD (U) president Sharad Yadav also endorsed his view and asserted that the party will never go back to the BJP. “We have assembled here to prevent the BJP from coming to power and hence such a question is inappropriate,” he said.
Mulayam Singh Yadav also faced the uncomfortable question of his party’s long-standing support to the Congress. Yadav replied that his party was never with the Congress and SP’s support was only issue-based. Also, it had never contested elections in tandem with the Congress. On the broad contours of the front, Karat said that they do not want the Congress and the UPA to continue in power and would work for their defeat. ‘‘As far as the BJP is concerned, it is no different from the Congress party,” he added.
* Karat also said that there was no difference between the BJP and the Congress on the issue of corruption as well. ‘‘The BJP’s record at the Centre and the state level is as bad as that of the Congress and the UPA government,” he asserted.
* The CPM leader also said that the BJP and Modi pose a challenge to the very secular edifices of our state and society. ‘‘Therefore, we need an alternative to both the Congress and the BJP,” he said.
Incidentally, BJD leader Naveen Patnaik was not present at the meeting.