Leaders of the proposed Third Front on Thursday discussed the outlines of the programme to be adopted in building an alternative to the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) but declined to say whether they had agreed on a common agenda.
"We are not going to say anything now," Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) president and former prime minister HD Deve Gowda, who hosted a breakfast for the leaders, told reporters.
"A message will be given at the convention (later in the day). We are launching the Third Front. All parties are rallying around us," Gowda said before heading to address a massive rally at Dobbaspet, around 60 km from Bangalore.
The rally will mark the 'official launch of the Third Front'.
Besides the JD-S, leaders of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), the Communist Party of India (CPI), the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), the Telengana Rashtra Samiti (TRS), the Forward Bloc, the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP), AIADMK and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) will take part.
Front leaders are hopeful that Orissa Chief Minister and Biju Janata Dal (BJD) leader Naveen Patnaik, who last week parted ways with the BJP, will soon join the group.
"One thing is clear. Naveen is not with the Congress. He broke away with the BJP," said CPI general secretary A Bardhan.
"In most of the states we have the chemistry. In one or two places, efforts are going on. We will work out the arithmetic," Bardhan told IANS.
Discussing who would be the prime ministerial candidate of the Front, Bardhan said, "We do not think it is important to project a PM candidate. We have several leaders who are very good prime ministerial material. But we will decide after the polls."
Bardhan asserted that the Jayalalitha-led AIADMK and Mayawati's BSP were with the Front and not fence-sitters.
"They (BSP and AIADMK) are well represented. They are not fence sitters. Only media is trying to give the impression that a few parties are fence sitters. They are with us," Bardhan said.
The CPI leader said the Third Front was coming up everywhere. "Bangalore has the privilege of getting the first announcement (of the formation) of the Third Front.
"Media calls it Third Front. I call it the First Front. Congress is second and BJP is way behind as bad front."
Bardhan said he differed with the assessment of TDP leader N Chandrababu Naidu that the situation was similar to 1996, when a third front government came to power at New Delhi with Congress support.
"No. It is far better; 2009 is not 1996. I differ with Naidu on this if he said so. I think we are far ahead. The time is ripe for a non-BJP, non-Congress alternative. Everybody is rallying one by one with us, some before the polls, and one or two after the polls."
On the Left parties joining the government if the Third Front came to power, the CPI general secretary said: "Whether we will be part of the government or not will be decided after the elections."