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(R-L) Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav, JD(S) supremo HD Deve Gowda and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar during the Third Front meeting in New Delhi
Eleven parties today decided to contest the Lok Sabha elections together
to provide an alternative to the Congress-led UPA and the BJP-led NDA -
yet another shot at a Third Front. Among those who met in Delhi were
the Left, Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal (United) and Mulayam Singh Yadav's
"This is not the Third Front, it is the First Front,"said JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav. (Highlights of the press conference)
Mulayam Singh Yadav enthusiastically declared, "We are 11 parties now. We might be 15 soon... together we will do it." (Who said what)
While on numbers, though, only nine parties attended the meeting.
Naveen Patnaik's Biju Janata Dal or the BJD and the Asom Gana Parishad
skipped; CPM general secretary Prakash Karat said pressing matters had
kept them away.
In Bhubaneswar, however, Mr Patnaik said, "As I said before, I think at the moment it is still early days."
AGP, sources said, is split down the middle; one section reportedly
wants the party to forge an alliance with Narendra Modi
today's meeting, the participants chose not to discuss who would be
prime minister if the conglomerate comes to power. Third Front
experiments have traditionally seen regional parties in a tussle over
the top post and there are many leaders in the current configuration who
reportedly fancy their chances.
The new front talked alternative
policy and secular politics, but when asked whether they would do
business with the Congress to keep the BJP from power, chose to remain
silent. "Let's first concentrate on winning the elections. Then these
are issues that we can discuss later... We are not in a position to
comment now," Mr Karat said.
Third Front governments in the past
have either been backed by the BJP (VP Singh in 1989) or the Congress
(HD Deve Gowda in 1996, IK Gujral in 1997). They have not been the
steadiest of partnerships.