They may paint the Left black but they cannot black it out. Major UPA allies have sought to revive their hotlines with the Left again, realising the Communists would form a crucial bloc despite a likely drop in their tally.
CPM chief Prakash Karat has reiterated the Left position in the past 24 hours: it would not back a Congress-led government. The challenge for allies like Sharad Pawar is to find a meeting ground between the Left and Congress.
As the second phase of polling was in progress, the three UPA partners — the NCP, RJD and LJP — reached out to the Communists, saying they were the key to formation of a “secular” government.
The renewed call has to do with the fact that the UPA numbers may not add up without Left support.
The NCP chief said, “I honestly feel that this time we require the blessings and support of the Left parties. That is why from the first day, I am consistently saying to all my colleagues... that let us keep good rapport with the Left.”
CPI national secretary D Raja responded with an offer. “We want to form an alternative government. Let the NCP, RJD and LJP make up its mind and back us. We can have a non-Congress government.”
Karat has been steadfast on his goal of a non-BJP government not led by the Congress. He is not averse to taking support from the Congress, however. “If the Congress voluntarily offers support, why should we reject?” Karat had told HT in an interview earlier.
The Left should not have any major disagreement with Pawar’s position so far. One, he has refused to toe the Congress line on a prefixed PM candidate. Who gets to be PM is a post-poll and open-ended issue, he has maintained. This is very close to the Left stand.
In Patna, RJD chief Lalu Prasad has said the doors for the Left were “still open” for a post-poll alliance. “It would be necessary if the Congress-led UPA is not in a position to form the government.”
Even LJP’s Ramvilas Paswan warmed up to the Left. “We were never against the Left. We would want it to remain with secular forces,” he said.
The Left Front is expected to see a fall in its tally in its two key bastions, Bengal and Kerala. According to many, it could end up with just between 35-40 seats against 61 in the outgoing Lok Sabha.