In what could be the final step towards the formation of a Third Front, an alternative to Congress-led UPA and BJP-led NDA at the Centre, 11 political parties on Wednesday decided to work as one block on a “common agenda” in Parliament.
"This is the first step after the Oct 23 meeting. We are aligning non-Congress, non-BJP parties in both houses," JD-U chief Sharad Yadav said at a joint press conference after a meeting of these parties.
The block includes four Left parties, Samajwadi Party, JD(U), AIADMK, AGP, Jharkhand Vikas Morcha, JD(S) and BJD, which attended an anti-communalism convention in New Delhi in October last year.
Together, these parties have 92 Lok Sabha seats in the house of 543.
"The block has been set up primarily to raise issues affecting the people," CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury said when asked whether it should be called a Third Front, while claiming only the Third Front can promote secularism in the country.
He said the 11 parties will ensure that no bill is passed amid din as the Congress might use the legislations to further its election agenda.
When asked about Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee’s call for a Federal Front, Yechury said, "Don't get into abstractions. Whoever claims of talking to someone or some party is all a claim and therefore is an abstraction."
The BJP promptly ridiculed the development, with its leader Shahnawaz Hussain saying it was only a “gathering of outfits who would finish third in the Lok Sabha polls” and sensed “Congress hand” in it.
Hussain said while the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) would finish after the BJP and the Trinamool Congress in West Bengal in the coming polls, the same fate awaits the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh and the Janata Dal (United) in Bihar.
"The Congress knows it cannot fight the BJP on its own strength. So, it is bringing its foot soldiers to the fore,” he said.
The BJP PM candidate Narendra Modi also ridiculed the idea of a Third Front, saying the states ruled by its constituents have remained backward.
"The idea behind Third Front is to make India a third-rate country. Eastern states have remained backward as these are ruled by the Third Front parties,” he said.
"Time has come to bid farewell to this idea of third front from Indian politics forever,” he told a rally in West Bengal.