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Jyoti Basu favours secular Govt at Centre

The veteran CPM leader has ruled out the possibility of the BJP-led NDA getting a majority in this polls and hinted that his party's efforts would be to install an alternative secular coalition Govt at the Centre with Congress as a partner.
PTI | By Press Trust of India, Kolkata
UPDATED ON MAY 01, 2004 01:30 PM IST

Veteran CPI-M leader Jyoti Basu has ruled out the possibility of the BJP-led NDA getting a majority in this elections and hinted that his party's efforts would be to install an alternative secular coalition government at the Centre with Congress as a partner.

"The seats of the Congress will increase, but by itself it cannot get a majority. BJP also will not get a majority. There has to be a coalition government and the Congress which is the biggest opposition party is also talking about a coalition now, unlike in the past," he said.

The nonagenarian Marxist leader said there has to be a coalition government, but with whom? "I cannot say now. We shall see who will go with whom and who can form the government."

Admitting that the situation was complicated, he said that in Bihar, Laloo Prasad Yadav's RJD was with Congress, but Mulayam Singh was not. ''We were advising Mulayam Singh to make up with Congress.''

He said differences among various opposition parties had to be ironed out to facilitate formation of an alternative government. ''There is a dispute between Laloo Prasad and Mulayam, our party leaders in Delhi are in touch with them. It will be a great failure on our part if they desert us and if they don't accept our proposition to form a non-communal government.''

Basu, who was in the CPI-M core committee which also included party general secretary HKS Surjeet, said the left was not strong enough to form an alternative government on its own.

''We had a talk with Congress and we are talking to different political parties in Tamil Nadu and in Andhra Pradesh. Some kind of alliance has been forged.

''We have asked Congress to get hold of allies. The question of prime ministership and common minimum programme will come later,'' Basu said.

"If Congress became the largest party. Sonia is the leader of that party. But whom they will choose, I do not know. Some other person can be chosen as had happened in the past when 12 parties offered our party to join the government with me as Prime Minister," he added.

Avoiding a straight reply whether CPI-M would participate in such an alternative government, Basu said his party would discuss this among 'ourselves and our allies' after the election results were out.

''We have differences with Congress on economic policies and I have gone through their documents. It needs lots of change.''

''We have no joint platform with Congress, but we say Congress is secular.''

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