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Eye on UP, Left talks of Third Front

With India?s most populous state coming up for Assembly elections in less than a year?s time, the Third Front is showing signs of life again. Upping the ante this time are UPA allies CPM and the Samajwadi Party.

india Updated: Jun 18, 2006 01:47 IST

With India’s most populous state coming up for Assembly elections in less than a year’s time, the Third Front is showing signs of life again. Upping the ante this time are UPA allies CPM and the Samajwadi Party.

After a 45-minute meeting at Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav’s Lucknow residence, CPM general secretary Prakash Karat today said, “The option of the Third Front is still open. Discussions are continuing with like-minded political parties over the formation of the Front.”

Mulayam Singh Yadav added that the two parties would be working closely on issues like poverty and fuel prices. He said, “The Congress is employing all tricks to pull down the state government. Still, we are supporting the UPA government at the Centre.” Both party chiefs warned the UPA not to take their support for granted, especially on the issue of fuel prices.

Speaking days after some sharp criticism that the Leftist state governments levy some of the highest taxes on petrol and diesel, Karat said, “The Central government gets a major share of oil revenues in the form of excise and custom duties. The states' share in sales tax is far less than the revenue collected by the Centre.”

Karat said rather than telling the States to slash sales tax, the Central Government should reduce excise and custom duties on fuel to provide relief to the masses.

The CPM has also registered its protest against the import of wheat at a higher price than what the government was offering to domestic farmers.

“Our farmers will suffer if the Central Government continues to import wheat,” he said.

He warned, “Our support to the Central Government should not be taken for granted. We have extended support to the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) to check the BJP and communal forces from coming to power.”

He added: “The Left Front has submitted a note to the UPA to draw the attention to the areas of differences.” Karat said the CPM would decide on its response after it gets an answer to the note next month.

Reacting to Income-Tax notices to Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan, Karat said policies can be opposed in politics, but individuals should not be targeted.

“I will speak about this issue in Delhi,” he said.

Meanwhile, Shia cleric Maulana Kalbe Jawad’s People’s Democratic Front and Imam Ahmad Bukhari's UP United Democratic Front are locked in discussions to set up a common front. UDF’s C.M. Ibrahim told HT he wanted to broadbase the front by including OBCs and Dalits. He expressed an inclination towards V.P. Singh’s Jan Morcha Alliance.

First Published: Jun 18, 2006 01:47 IST