iconimg Saturday, September 05, 2015

Nagendar Sharma , Hindustan Times
New Delhi, October 28, 2013
The October 30 convention against communalism in the capital is being viewed as an attempt by the Left parties to bring together non-Congress, non-BJP parties six months before the Lok Sabha elections. This is the first major national level initiative by the Left after its debacle in the 2009 general elections. Senior CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury is among the key organisers of the convention. He dismisses the talk of yet another third front as a media creation. Excerpts:

Are the Left parties trying to re-establish their lost relevance on the national scene through this convention?

The convention is the coming together of parties and individuals opposed to communalism and it is being organised at a time when attempts are being made to communalise the atmosphere in the country. There is no other agenda despite media speculation.

The parties invited for the convention have been a part of previous third front experiments, though they gravitated either towards the Congress or BJP. Are they again talking about the third front?

Those who are participating in the convention will purely concentrate on upholding secularism. The convention might lead to some political understanding at a later stage, but it is not our primary aim at this juncture.

JD(U) leaders are saying when political parties meet the agenda is obviously political and any alignment is possible in the coming days?

AIADMK, JD(U), BJD and SP leadership have confirmed their participation. Many other big and small parties will also be there. The country has been and will continue to be in a coalition era and we believe that any concrete front will take shape only after the elections. All players would want to perform their best and finally it comes down to the numbers game.

No possibility of a non-Congress, non-BJP front before the elections?

Please keep the Indian political reality and history in mind. All coalition governments have been a result of post-poll combinations. Even the NDA in 1998 took concrete shape after the results were declared. The term UPA came into existence after the 2004 results were declared, so let us wait for the people to give their verdict first.

Two major contenders — Congress and BJP already appear to have taken a head start in campaigning?

You appear to be referring towards the much media hyped NaMo Vs Raga (Narendra Modi Vs Rahul Gandhi) contest. I respond by saying that this is a non melodious raga and the people of the country are looking for alternate policies and not leaders — the voters are looking for neeti and not neta.

What kind of a post-poll scenario do you visualise in 2014?

Though it is too early to predict and the voters have a quality of surprising the pollsters and also political parties at times, I do not rule out a 1996 type of a verdict. However, please do bear in mind that India’s election history shows every election has been different from all previous elections.

Are you saying that no party/alliance will get a majority in 2014 and the third front revival chances could emerge again?

It appears that both the Congress and BJP-led alliances could be in for a surprise, but as I said it is too early to predict the voters mind.