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Red Alert

Third Front doesn’t seem to be much of a pre-poll reality, with the CPM, which was its prime mover, itself struggling to seal seat-sharing deals with ‘allies.’ Nagendar Sharma & Zia Haq report.

india Updated: Apr 01, 2009 00:27 IST
Nagendar Sharma & Zia Haq
Nagendar Sharma & Zia Haq
Hindustan Times

The CPI(M), which took the initiative to form the Third Front in a bid to seek revenge against the UPA for its insistence on pushing ahead with the Indo-US nuclear deal last year, is finding the going tough.

The red party may be spewing venom at the Congress for the last eight months, but that has not helped it cement alliances with anti-Congress forces. The CPI(M) is struggling to finalise seat-sharing agreements with friendly parties in Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

Andhra mess
The grand alliance between the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), the Telengana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) and the CPI(M), announced with much fanfare in Andhra Pradesh, was in trouble till Monday with the three parties unable to decide on seat sharing. But CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat has claimed today that the differences had been sorted out.

“The issue of seat-sharing has been sorted out and is settled. All the parties in the alliance will make a joint statement. The main issue was regarding Assembly seats.”

However, a senior Left leader said the only way this alliance could be saved was by allowing friendly fights on some seats. “It is impossible to have a complete understanding.”

The coming together of the TDP and the CPI(M) with the TRS was a surprise development, as both parties have been fiercely opposed to the creation of a separate Telengana state, which has been the basis of the political existence of the TRS.

The three came together on an anti-Congress plank, but it remains to be seen how long would the alliance last.

Kerala shock
The biggest embarrassment for the main Left party unexpectedly came in Kerala. Former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda’s JD(S) has a token presence in the state and its lone senior leader, M.P. Veerendra Kumar, was a trusted Left ally for years.

The hard bargaining by the CPI for more seats forced the CPI(M) to accept its demand. This resulted in the JD(S), which was not given its traditional Kozhikode seat, being squeezed out of the alliance.

Miffed, the JD(S) has decided to stay away from the polls in Kerala. “We will not be contesting the elections this time. The Left will repent its decision after the polls,” Kumar said.

Though Gowda has apparently been trying to keep CPI(M) leaders in good humour, sensing a hung Parliament, his leaders have not denied that communication channels with the Congress are open — “both for Kerala and Karnataka”.

Tentative in Tamil Nadu
The CPI(M) general secretary had sprung a surprise by striking a deal with the AIADMK after rebuffing trusted ally DMK.

However, the warm ties between Karat and Jayalalitha have not translated into a concrete alliance on the ground. The two parties are yet to announce a seat-sharing pact.

The CPI(M) wants to contest six seats in the state, the AIADMK is willing to give it four and the CPI two.

First Published: Apr 01, 2009 00:23 IST