The leaders of nearly 18 non-BJP, non-Congress parties will launch an “alternative front” at a Left-sponsored public rally in Bangalore in February third week.
In this season of break-ups and alliances, the front concept is being viewed as an effort to prevent smaller parties and groups from being sucked in by the gravitational pull of either the Congress-led UPA or BJP-led NDA. It is also seen as a reunion strategy by the erstwhile socialist parties and groups.
Besides the four Left parties, the Bangalore rally is likely to be attended by the Janata Dal (United), Janata Dal (Secular), Samajwadi Party (SP), Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and AIADMK among others — a show of unity by the proposed “alternative front”, which would be followed by joint campaign programmes and rallies across the country in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections in summer.
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Spurred by recent political surveys indicating approximately 40% seats in the polls would go to regional players, the leaders of such parties have intensified efforts to come together on a common platform.
A meeting of the ‘Big Five’ — Mulayam Singh Yadav (SP), HD Deve Gowda (JD-S), Naveen Patnaik (BJD), Sharad Yadav and Nitish Kumar (both JD-U) — is scheduled in New Delhi on February 9 to fine-tune the blueprint of their common action plan.
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Constituents of the proposed front also plan to jointly raise the issue of Centre-state relations and other common concerns when the winter session of Parliament resumes on Wednesday.
“This session is being called to pass the vote on account. Leaders of our parties will not allow the forum of Parliament to be used by the BJP or Congress to make political statements. Strategy for a joint action plan will be worked out at the meeting on February 5,” JD-U’s KC Tyagi told HT.
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However, the alternative front concept faces numerous challenges — including competing claims over PMship — and inherent contradictions. Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress, for instance, can’t be part of a formation inspired by the Left, in the same way the BSP cannot break bread with the SP.
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