The Left has for the first time made a clean breast of something everybody suspected — it is talking to Congress allies in the hope that some of them will join the Third Front after the Lok Sabha elections.
Communist Party of India (CPI) chief AB Bardhan told NDTV that the Left was in touch with several parties, including Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party and Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party, both part of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA). He added: “Mayawati is more deserving of the prime minister’s chair than LK Advani or Manmohan Singh.”
Many regional parties, despite being part of the National Democratic Alliance or the UPA, are charting their own course. This is where the Left hopes to cash in. Lalu Prasad’s Rashtriya Janata Dal teamed up with Paswan to leave only three of Bihar’s 40 seats for the Congress. Left leaders said this showed they could be won over.
The perceived weakening of the BJP has, paradoxically, weakened the Congress too. No longer driven by the compulsion to keep the BJP out of power, allies are asserting themselves. “We will move away from old coalition norms,” CPI-Marxist leader Nilotpal Basu said.