Changing tones: Karat comes full circle on Congress | india | Hindustan Times
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Changing tones: Karat comes full circle on Congress

With exit polls indicating only a slender edge for the Congress and a crumbling of the Third Front, the Left could tacitly allow the formation of a Congress-led minority government. Zia Haq reports. Full Coverage | KaratSpeak

india Updated: May 15, 2009 15:17 IST
Zia Haq

With exit polls indicating only a slender edge for the Congress and a crumbling of the Third Front, the Left could tacitly allow the formation of a Congress-led minority government.

CPM general secretary Prakash Karat (56) told Hindustan Times on Thursday that the Left would not “help the Congress” but said nothing to suggest it would bring down a Congress-led government in a trust vote if the Congress is the single-largest party.

“Why speculate at this point. No government is possible without the Third Front and our involvement. Let’s wait for the results,” Karat said, when asked if the Left would let the Congress seize power to keep the BJP out.

The Left had built its campaign around a non-Congress, non-BJP alternative government. A day before results, such a government looks like a numerical impossibility.

The Left’s position vis-à-vis the Congress has come down to two options. If the Congress’s tally drops, the Left is likely to put forward the argument that the Congress should support a secular government of the communists and their regional allies.

But if the Congress improves upon its 2004 figures, then the Left can keep an equal distance from the BJP and the Congress. Such a position will only help the Congress sustain a minority government.

The Left and its allies could then form an influential bloc that will pressure the government on policies, hanging over it like a Damocles' sword.

Such a position would go well with at least two Left allies: the Biju Janata Dal and the Telugu Desham Party.

Both are fundamentally anti-Congress and yet very conscious of their secular appearance, making it unlikely that they will support the BJP.

“Whatever decision we take, we will take it in consultation with our allies. That’s why we have called a meeting on May 18,” Karat said.

Karat has said the Left would never allow the BJP —which it considers a right-wing party — to leverage election results that are too close to call.

Karat said he did not make much of the exit polls and therefore did not rule out the possibility of the Third Front forming a minority government either.

Going by Karat’s statements over the past two days, it is clear that the first priority of the Left would be to see the formation of a “secular government”.

It is also safe to infer that the Left would head for the Opposition benches and do nothing to pull down a Congress government down during a trust vote, to keep the BJP out.

Karat’s refusal to spell out the Left stand in the event of the Congress emerging as the single-largest party means that the comrades may change their pre-poll stand.