Alliance decision after polls, says BSP chief

New Delhi: Bahujan Samaj Party, or BSP, chief Mayawati on Sunday said the party will contest the April-May general election on its own, but will keep open options for post-poll tie-ups, with the intention of preventing the country’s two main political formations from coming to power.
How to prevent the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) from taking power in the elections would be discussed at a dinner she was hosting for leaders of the so-called Third Front on Sunday night, Mayawati said.
“We will think of a post-poll tie-up in an effort to defeat the UPA’s and NDA’s designs to come to power,” the Uttar Pradesh chief minister, who led the BSP to power in India’s most populous state two years ago, told a press conference in the national capital.
The “Third Front,” a non-Congress, non-BJP alternative that is still taking shape, is courting Mayawati to join the alliance ahead of the elections that begin on 16 April. Mayawati refused to comment when asked whether she would agree to be the prime ministerial candidate of the front, which is led by the Left parties.
The BSP leader also said there would be no discussion on a prime ministerial candidate during her dinner meeting with the non-Congress, non-BJP leaders on Sunday night.
“The dinner meeting is an informal meeting of parties opposed to the Congress-led UPA and BJP-led NDA. The meeting is not going to discuss the issue of prime ministership..,” she said.
Mayawati released the BSP’s “appeal” for the Lok Sabha elections, in which she promised that if her party came to power at the Centre, her government will provide reservations for upper castes. The BSP’s power base rests mainly on its appeal for the Dalits.
The third political alternative was formally launched last week with constituents including the Communist Party of India (Marxist), or CPM, the Communist Party of India, or CPI, the Revolutionary Socialist Party, or RSP, the Forward Bloc, Janata Dal (Secular), the Telugu Desam Party and the Telangana Rashtra Samiti.
The Biju Janata Dal (BJD), which has pulled out of an alliance with the BJP in Orissa, and the All India Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, or AIADMK, also attended a meeting of the grouping at the CPM headquarters in New Delhi on Sunday.
“The parties that met today will jointly campaign (in the general elections) and they will issue a joint mission statement for an alternative government at the Centre,” said a senior CPM leader, who didn’t want to be identified.
Leaders of the front issued a joint statement after the meeting, vowing to fight the two main coalitions led by the Congress and the BJP.
“We don’t want to call this coalition a Third Front as of now because we expect more parties to join us before announcing the formation of such an alliance,” said Sitaram Yechury, a member of the CPM politburo.
The BJD’s B.J. Panda also said a full-fledged coalition may emerge only after the elections. At the meeting, CPM general secretary Prakash Karat also read out a letter from Jharkhand Vikas Morcha leader and former Jharkhand chief minister Babulal Marandi who expressed his interest in joining a non-Congress, non-BJP political formation, said a Left leader who attended the meeting.

K.P. Narayana Kumar and Liz Mathew

PTIcontributed to this story.

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