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Tremors in Third Front

Janata Dal (S) chief HD Deve Gowda is planning to officially launch the Third Front in a week, but he is reportedly continuing clandestine talks for a tie-up with the Congress. The Congress is still sending feelers to the JD (S) for an alliance, even as the Left steps up pressure in a desperate bid to stop Gowda from responding to them. Nandini R Iyer reports. See Special: My India My Vote 2009

india Updated: Mar 05, 2009 01:19 IST

He’s planning to officially launch the Third Front in a week, but Janata Dal (S) chief HD Deve Gowda is reportedly continuing clandestine talks for a tie-up with the Congress.

The Third Front — an alliance of the Left parties, the JD(S), the Telegu Desam Party and the AIADMK among others — will be launched in Karnataka on March 12.

But the Congress is still sending feelers to the JD (S) for an alliance, even as the Left steps up pressure in a desperate bid to stop Gowda from responding to them.

Ghulam Nabi Azad, recently given charge of Congress campaign strategy in Karnataka, admitted he was strongly in favour of an alliance with the JD (S).

Congress leader CK Jaffer Sharief met Gowda at the latter’s Safdarjung Lane residence on Wednesday. The JD (S) camp insisted it was a personal meeting.

“They are old friends and he (Sharief) makes an effort to come over whenever Deve Gowda is in town,” a senior JD (S) functionary told Hindustan Times.

He admitted, however, that the Left parties had intensified pressure on Gowda to stop him from forming any alliance with the Congress..

The stakes are equally high for both the Congress and the JD (S), following the last assembly election, where the JD (S) fared a poor third (28 seats) after the BJP (110) and Congress (80) in a house of 224.

In the 2004 general elections too, the both the JD (S) and Congress faced severe losses, winning eight and two seats respectively to the BJP’s 18.

Congress insiders, however, are confident that an alliance would bring in a minimum of 20 seats, out of the state's 28.

On BSP chief Mayawati, Gowda said no arrangements had been reached. “She wants to go it on her own in every state… sharing a platform is the only option,” he said, hinting that he was still hopeful about a post-election tie-up.