Left, third front to finalise strategy against UPA


New Delhi : Taking forward their move to form a non-Congress non-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alternative, the Left Thursday announced it would work with the third front parties to oppose the ruling coalition over the India-US nuclear deal.

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The Left leaders, who held separate meetings with the third grouping, the United National Progressive Alliance (UNPA), said they were on the same platform on “people’s issues”.

“On people’s issues, we are on the same platform. There is an effort to create an alternative (to the Congress and BJP) to raise people’s issues, and it will be formed,” Communist Party of India (CPI) general secretary A.B. Bardhan told reporters after his meeting with Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav.

But the leaders were not forthcoming on whether there would be a formal alliance. Mulayam Singh said: “One cannot predict the result of joint struggles.”

Bardhan added: “But we (Left and the UNPA) will coordinate our stand in parliament on the Indo-US nuclear deal because both of us are opposed to it.”

The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M)-led Left bloc, which support Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s coalition government from outside, has been opposing the nuclear deal and asked the government to put it on hold till their concerns over its implications on India’s foreign policy and nuclear programme are addressed.

However, Mulayam Singh wants the nuclear deal to be scrapped as maintaining the agreement with Washington would be “dangerous” for the country’s sovereignty.

Mulayam Singh and his party general secretary Amar Singh also met CPI-M general secretary Prakash Karat.

During their 15-minute meeting, both sides are believed to have continued discussions on a joint strategy to oppose the nuclear deal. Karat and CPI-M politburo member Sitaram Yechury met the third front leaders Tuesday as well.

Constituents like the Samajwadi Party and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) of the UNPA have been meeting the Left to seek out common issues on which they could work together against the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.

The UNPA has demanded that the India-US nuclear agreement, which is strongly opposed by the communists, be debated in parliament before the government takes any steps to implement it.

While it is not insisting on a vote on the issue in parliament, UNPA leaders said the government should not proceed with it if the majority of parliament members are against it.

In an editorial in the latest issue of the party mouthpiece People’s Democracy, the CPI-M agreed that the majority in parliament should decide the fate of the contentious deal.

Although an official spokesperson of the Congress has said the party was not alarmed by the Left-UNPA meetings, party media committee chairperson Veerappa Moily has termed the developments “unfortunate”.