With campaigning for Election 2009 coming to end on Monday and a fractured mandate near certain, West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said for the first time that the Left could join a government that was ready to "change" the country's foreign and economic policies.
At the same time Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said post-May 16 all possibilities were open but was sure the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) would return to power.
"Those who get annoyed can be mollified," he said cryptically in obvious allusion to whether the estranged Communists would come around to supporting the UPA again.
"If an alternate government is formed according to an unified agenda, there is a change in the country's internal, economic and foreign policies, and we can play a meaningful role to achieve that, we will join that government," Bhattacharjee told reporters in Kolkata.
The veteran politician, who Manmohan Singh recently described as a friend, added that his party's aim was to form an alternate government, without the two major national parties.
"At this moment, we are trying to form a government without Congress, without BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party). This is our basic objective at this moment. Let the elections be over. Let the results be announced. Then we will take a final decision. At this moment of time I just cannot say who is going to support whom."
Party insiders said the CPI-M remained divided over backing a UPA dispensation and was also discussing how to pressure the Congress to support a Third Front-led grouping if its partners got the seats.
In Ludhiana, meanwhile, in his last leg of campaigning, Manmohan Singh said: "All possibilities will be known after May 16. I would not like to speculate on this. Everything will depend on the numbers."
Referring to possible post-poll alliances, he said: "Politics is the art of the possible. Those who got annoyed can be mollified."
"I always believed that all secular forces should come together and give a secular government to the country, " he said.
"The wider purpose is that secular forces should give a secular government to this country," he added.
Taking a dig at the unity show presented by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) partners a day earlier, the prime minister said that the split in the NDA "is very much there" and would begin to show after the elections.
"It is wrong to say that the NDA has not split. The BJD and the TDP (Biju Janata Dal of Orissa and Telugu Desam Party of Andhra Pradesh) are no longer there. The split is very much there. It will be even more after the elections,"
In Delhi, the Bharatiya Janat Party (BJP) hit out at the UPA, terming it an "Ulta Pulta (topsy turvy) Alliance", and said the ruling coalition had "collaped like a pack of cards hours after Manmohan Singh questioned Janata Dal-United leader and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's secular claims after sharing a dais with Narendra Modi.
"The UPA is an alliance which is non existent and filled with pessimism. I would like to remind the prime minister to look inwards, your house has collapsed like a pack of cards," said BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad.
Prasad said the Congress leaders were confused, with some praising Nitish Kumar and others criticising him.