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Sunday, August 5, 2007

Third Front? It has already collapsed: Yechury

The newly formed eight-party Third Front has already collapsed, Marxist leader Sitaram Yechury says, hinting that his party is moving closer again to the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) to form a 'third alternative'.

Saying that the United National Progressive Alliance (UNPA) had become 'redundant' after the AIADMK broke ranks to back Bhairon Singh Shekhawat in the presidential election, Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Yechury made it clear that his party stood for 'a third alternative, not a Third Front'.

Yechury indicated in an interview with IANS that there may not be much hindrance to the creation of a new alliance of parties genuinely opposed to both the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)

'I think it (UNPA) is already redundant with (AIADMK leader J.) Jayalalitha going her way in the presidential election. This also points to the fallacy of forming fronts as distinct from ideologically based alternatives,' he said.

'We have all along maintained that we are for a third alternative and not a third front, and we are trying to create this third alternative the way we visualize it,' he said.

'That (demands) unity on various issues like the negative impact of economic reforms and a concerted and determined fight against communalism. We are willing to align with those forces to create a third alternative that are ready to come with us on both these issues. We are on the job,' he added.

Yechury also made it evident that the CPI-M was all set to make up with the TDP, its former ally and now the main opposition party in Andhra Pradesh.

'It's not us who broke away from the TDP, it is the other way round. The TDP broke away from us on issues relating to economic reforms and communalism,' said the Rajya Sabha MP and politburo member of the party. 'It is they who went over to the other side.'

Yechury was responding to a question: 'Do you rule out any realignment with the TDP in the next general election?'

The presidential election, won by the Congress-Left-BSP candidate Pratibha Patil, also saw the Samajwadi Party, a long-time CPI-M ally, move away and join hands with the Third Front along with the TDP and others.

Yechury said the Samajwadi Party, now the main opposition party in Uttar Pradesh, was also with the Marxists on the issue of battling communalism as well as rightwing economic policies.

The police firing on CPI-M workers in Khammam in Andhra Pradesh last month, leading to the death of six communists, has sparked a war of words between the CPI-M and the Congress.

But Yechury played down any threat to the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in New Delhi as a consequence.

'The problems between the Congress and the Left have existed for long in West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura. That didn't prevent us from supporting the Congress and the UPA at the national level to prevent communal forces from coming to power.

'But to think that this (Andhra police firing) will have no effect whatsoever is also not correct because the way the Congress is targeting the CPI-M, it will definitely have a souring effect (in our relations).'

On the Indo-US nuclear deal, once a sore point with the Left, Yechury said so far he has no grouse against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

'Our position is that the bottom line is the assurance given by the prime minister on Aug 17 last year in the Rajya Sabha. I had raised nine areas of concern in which India's interests should not be compromised.

'To be fair to the prime minister, he gave an assurance,' said Yechury. 'The prime minister claims that all the nine points are met. He said this pointing a finger at me and reminding me of my nine points.'

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