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'Grand alliance' in choppy waters

The Samajwadi Party’s “grand alliance” theory promoting a broad unity between the Congress, Left and the UNPA appears headed for trouble, reports Srinand Jha.
Hindustan Times | By Srinand Jha, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JUN 07, 2008 02:35 AM IST

The Samajwadi Party’s (SP’s) “grand alliance” theory promoting a broad unity between the Congress, Left and the United Nationalist Progressive Alliance (UNPA) partners appears headed for trouble, with at least two constituents of the fledging combine expressing disapproval of the growing bonhomie between the SP and the Congress.

Regional and national compulsions might provoke constituents of the UNPA to take a different political stands at different times, but the Third Alternative concept will continue to grow even if some parties opt out, Asom Gana Parishad leader Brinadaban Goswami said. Telegu Desam Party’s (TDP’s) K. Yarran Naidu said he would articulate his thoughts on this at the right forum.

Besides the NDA and the UPA, the UNPA is the only potent political alternative in the country and remains relevant, SP general secretary Amar Singh said on Friday. That Singh should feel compelled to make such a spirited defence when the UNPA completes its first year, speaks for itself. As Singh announced at a press conference, UNPA and Left leaders will meet early next month to strategise plans for a campaign on price rise. The big question remains: Despite these activities, is the UNPA heading somewhere?

After AIADMK leader J. Jayalalithaa’s exit, the UNPA was weakened. After the UPA government’s loan waiver scheme, UNPA partners found themselves robbed of their pet themes. Now – with the apparent warming of relations between the SP and Congress – the UNPA has substantially compromised its stated position of maintaining an equal distance from both the Congress and the BJP. Amar Singh admitted on Friday: “Our compulsion is that we are opposed to the BJP.”

Ostensibly, the SP leader was speaking for his own party. Certain other constituents of the UNPA find themselves compelled to oppose the Congress.

Notwithstanding claims of certain constituents that they had acquired national footprints, the UNPA remains a grouping of regional parties. It might be tall order to expect them to make a huge difference to the political verdict in the sixth assembly elections.

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