The Left is at it again. The CPI(M) and CPI are trying to create a combo that will be non-Congress, non-BJP, non-Mamata and non-Mayawati.
For now, it roped in only its old friend Samajwadi Party and Deve Gowda's Janata Dal (Secular) to contest the Rajasthan assembly polls later this year. JD(S) secretary general Danish Ali confirmed: "Watch out. This is just the trailer," with five more assembly polls lined up this year.
But the combo lost its appeal even before it got down to business with the absence of arguably the first pillar of democracy — the magic number of 272 in the Lok Sabha. With Mamata Banerjee's TMC and Mayawati's BSP firmly and irrevocably ignored, any possibility of its dominating the political scene looks a distant dream.
While any alliance with Banerjee is out of the question — considering the communists' hostile relations with the TMC in Bengal — Mayawati is yet to come out of her past misdemeanor of allying with the BJP. "She prefers coalition for her own elevation," said CPI leader Atul Kumar Anjan.
Keeping aside the formation of a Third Front as a post-poll operation, the Left has decided to take a safer route.
Anjan said, "We realised that none of the regional parties favoured a loose-ended federal front as proposed by Mamata Banerjee. They wanted it to be a programme-based political alternative to the NDA and UPA that had failed the public on several issues of their concern, such as price rise and corruption."
In the past too, Left parties took the challenge of forming or backing alternative fronts to keep the Congress or the BJP out of power. In 1989, they gave outside support to VP Singh's National Front government, while in 1996, CPM leader Harkishen Singh Surjeet succeeded in putting together a United Front government.
The first two governments survived for 11 months and two years respectively, while the CPM-led Left Front's outside support to the UPA government to keep the BJP out of power in 2004 continued till 2008, when the government decided to go ahead with its nuclear deal with the US, no matter what the Left thought of it.
So, what new magic glue is on offer this time to keep the disparate elements of the new front together, especially with some of the possible allies and the SP already being UPA supporters?
At a political convention on July 1, all the four parties adopted an 'alternative' policy that would be the basis of pulling together the 'democratic and secular forces' — read: the Congress is not democratic and the BJP not secular — against their 'anti-people, neo-liberal' measures.
Prior to the convention, the communist leaders had detailed discussions with major regional satraps, including AIADMK boss Jayalalithaa, BJD leader Naveen Patnaik, SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav, TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu and JD(U)'s Sharad Yadav.
Since then, CPI leader AB Bardhan has sent out a 10-point letter to 26 regional parties which, with minor amendments, could become the vision document of the anti-BJP, anti-Congress front.
Bardhan's communiqué refers to the need to ensure an independent foreign policy, support for farmers, food security with an effective PDS, checking atrocities on women and children, scrapping plans to divest in insurance and banking, strengthening the public sector and a clear-cut programme to fight communal and casteist forces.
Political commentator Prof Yogeshwar Tiwari, however, feels, a policy framework is not enough to contain these diverse elements. "They have national aspirations with regional interests, which are bound to clash."
But Anjan said, "Wait till the November elections, the contours of the front would be visible by then."