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Buddha smiles on Congress?

india Updated: Oct 09, 2009 16:37 IST
HT Correspondent

Contrary to the Left Front’s earlier assertions, West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, 65, refused to categorically rule out the possibility of the Left supporting a Congress led government after the elections.

Though CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat has repeatedly emphasized that the Left would never support a Congress led again, Bhattacharjee, addressing a press conference at the Kolkata Press Club on Monday, refused to be categorical.

He said the Left would take a final decision depending on the results – to be declared on May 16. “We don’t believe in untouchability. The Congress is not untouchable,” he said.

He also conceded that the Left could join a coalition government. “We could join if we get a meaningful role to play,” he said. On earlier occasions, notably in 1996 when the United Front government was formed, the CPI(M) invited to join the ruling coalition at the center, had refused.

“At the moment, we are trying to form a non-Congress, non-BJP third front government with like-minded secular and democratic parties and fighting to defeat the Congress and the BJP,” said Bhattacharjee. “Let the elections be over... and we can take a final decision on what role we shall play.”

Bhattacharjee said the Left was in touch with all regional parties including some that had earlier been with the NDA. Asked specifically about Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, whom he had named at a rally last Thursday as being one of those the Left was in touch with, he said: “I’ve not spoken to him. Sitaram Yechury was in touch with Nitish Kumar.”

Asked how the Left could possibly support a Congress led coalition if the Trinamool Congress was also one of its components, Bhattacharjee said the alliance between the two parties wouldn’t last. “You’ve presumed Congress and Trinamool will stay together,” he said. “I don’t think so.”