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Cong, Laloo reach out to Mulayam

With a hung Parliament in the offing, non-NDA parties appeared to be getting their act together for an alternate govt.
PTI | By HT Correspondent, New Delhi
UPDATED ON APR 30, 2004 11:51 AM IST

With the exit polls predicting a hung Parliament, non-NDA political parties on Thursday appeared to be getting their act together to provide an alternative government.

While the Congress and RJD leader Laloo Prasad Yadav reached out to Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav saying he was welcome in a secular front, the Left Front said the possibility of a revival of a third front had brightened.

"We consider Mulayam Singh and his Samajwadi Party as part of the secular front," Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said.

Asked to comment on Laloo's statement on Wednesday that the SP chief was a splitter of secular votes, he said: "We agree with Laloo's statement today that Mulayam and his party are part of the secular front."

On his part, Laloo softened his stand saying Mulayam would be acceptable as long as he sided with a secular alliance.

"We will not accept his (Mulayam's) dictates or conditions. So long as he supports the secular alliance, it is all right. But, we will not tolerate any nuisance," Laloo told Aaj Tak.

The former Bihar CM said that if Mulayam "behaved well, there is no problem."

To a question as to who would lead the secular alliance, he said it would be Congress president Sonia Gandhi. "Only if she refuses, we will sit together and find out another person," he said.

The only jarring note to the conciliatory voices on Mulayam was that of Ram Vilas Paswan. Speaking in Patna, Paswan accused the SP leader of splitting secular votes and playing into the BJP's hands.

"It is no secret that Mulayam is playing into the hands of the BJP. He has fielded candidates in Bihar to split secular votes. He has also spared no effort in ensuring the defeat of Congress candidates in UP," Paswan said.

While the Congress and Laloo talked of a secular front, the chairman of West Bengal's ruling Left Front Biman Bose said in Kolkata that the third front could be revived.

"Everything is pregnant with possibilities (of a third front to come into being) in the given political situation," Bose, a CPI(M) stalwart said.

Asked which were the parties to comprise the third front, Bose said "it is not clear as yet."

West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacherjee has also said that the Left parties would try to work on a third front government minus the BJP and the Congress failing which it would give support to a Congress-led government.

In Jaipur, another CPI(M) leader, Sitaram Yechury claimed that the Left parties would play a crucial role in the formation of the next government.

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