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No support to Cong, 3rd Front’s prospects bright: Karat
Published on 15 Apr. 2009 1:09 AM IST
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Contrary to indications given by his party leaders, Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) general secretary Prakash Karat Tuesday ruled out supporting or aligning with the Congress after the Lok Sabha elections. The top CPI-M leader lambasted the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, which his party had supported for four years, for "subordinating" the country's interests to the US and for following anti-people economic policies at the diktats of Washington and international financial capitals. "So, there is no question of arriving at an alliance or understanding with the Congress after the elections. That's why we have given a call for defeating both the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)," Karat said during a meet-the-press programme at the Kolkata Press Club. His comments came days after West Bengal Chief Minister and CPI-M politburo member Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee declined to rule out the possibility of the Left parties supporting a Congress-led government at the centre after the polls. Bhattacharjee said the matter would depend on the post-election scenario. CPI-M state secretary Biman Bose also left open the question of supporting a Congress government post polls. Karat felt with the UPA "virtually ceasing to exist", and there being no chance of the BJP coming to power, the chances of a "secular alternative government" of non-Congress, non-BJP parties were bright. "All nine parties brought together are working in this regard. Those who say the Third Front is an illusion must realise that there is no such thing as the UPA. All major partners, except the DMK, are fighting the Congress." "Even the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) is fighting the Congress in states other than in Maharashtra," he said. He said while the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has also lost partners, the Third Front has grown and expanded. Karat said there will be a realignment of forces after the elections, with more "secular parties" joining the third force. "We are confident that we will emerge as the largest combination," he said. On the question of the front's prime ministerial candidate, Karat said it will be decided by the parties of the coalition to be formed by the common consent of all the constituents. "We see no difficulty in arriving at a decision on the prime minister." He said the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), which is projecting its leader Mayawati as a candidate for the top job, has also agreed that the issue will be decided after the polls. Asked if the CPI-M would pit Bhattacharjee as its prime ministerial candidate, Karat said: "I'm not saying anything. We are not putting forward any names, because after the election, we want to play a big role in bringing all the parties together so that a name can be arrived at." Karat said his party will seriously consider the issue of joining the government if there were prospects for a non-Congress, non-BJP government. Cong-BJP debate The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) Tuesday described as "meaningless" the debate between the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on whether Manmohan Singh was a weak prime minister. "Who is strong and who's weak... this is a meaningless debate. (L.K.) Advani says he will make a strong prime minister. But it is not a question of personality," CPI-M general secretary Prakash Karat told reporters here. He said his party was opposed to the policies of the Manmohan Singh government. "We had grudge about their economic policy, foreign policy etc. But an election is not merely about the prime minister." Ridiculing BJP's prime ministerial candidate Advani, he said: "He may be busy projecting himself as a strong prime minister. But that will not matter to somebody in Machilipatnam or Nashik." Karat also scoffed at Advani's repeated challenge to Manmohan Singh to join him in a television debate. "He (Advani) wants a presidential type of debate. But we (Third Front) want to have a multi-party coalition. The parties themselves will decide the policies and programmes." To another query, Karat said his party was opposed to the presidential system of governance, which would be "authoritarian". "The parliamentary system is most suited for a diverse country like India".

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