The opposition coalition that hopes to dislodge the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government in 2019 already has a name. But Communist Party of India Marxist leader Sitaram Yechury, who almost let the cat out of the bag on Thursday, refused to spill the beans.
"Even if I know the name I won't tell you now...," he said of his own volition at a news conference in Kolkata. "But whatever is formed after 2019, it will be an alternative secular government," he said, adding, "That will only be formed after the elections."
So the alternative front already had a name, he was asked. "Not a word more," Mr Yechury replied.
The Left leader contended that there was no possibility of a "mahagathbandhan" or Grand Alliance before the elections because "because we are a country of such diversity".
"The United Front government in 1996, the UPA (United Progressive Alliance) in 2004 were formed after the elections. This time - even if I know the name, I won't tell you now - whatever is formed after 2019... there will be an alternative secular government of India. But that will only happen after the elections," he said.
And will CPM be part of a formation, Mr Yechuri was asked. "Our patent, our intellectual property right has been 'outside support' as we did in 1996 and in 2004," he said, clearly indicating the CPM would indeed support an alternative secular democratic front government from outside.
But what if Left's biggest regional rival West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was part of the post-electoral alliance?
"In Bengal what's the slogan?" Mr Yechuri parried. "Oust the Modi government, save India. Oust the Mamata government, save Bengal," he said cryptically.
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