11-party front to beat Congress, BJP; provide alternative (Roundup)

New Delhi, Feb 25: A grouping of 11 non-UPA, non-NDA parties Wednesday announced that they will work for defeat of Congress and BJP in the coming Lok Sabha elections and provide an alternative with “secular, federal and pro-people development agenda”.

The parties which include the Samajwadi Party, AIADMK, Janata Dal-United (JD-U), Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S), apart from the four Left parties, said it was “time for change and to throw out Congress from power” and “BJP and communal forces must be defeated”.

The grouping said they would decide on the prime ministerial candidate after the elections expected April-May.

Briefing reporters after the meeting, Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Prakash Karat said the parties will work to provide an alternative to the Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party at the centre.

“Leaders of 11 parties have resolved to fight upcoming Lok Sabha elections together,” he said.

The meeting was not attended by Asom Gana Parishad and Biju Janata Dal but Karat said the leaders of these parties had conveyed in advance their reasons for not being able to attend.

“Keeping in mind Lok Sabha elections, we decided that leaders of 11 parties should meet and decide on cooperation and working together,” he said.

On seat sharing, Karat said each party will ensure success in their states, while they will “pool resources at all-India level”.

Contending the “misrule” of Congress-led United Progressive Alliance has been marked by “massive corruption, unprecedented price rise, acute distress of farmers and glaring inequalities”, he said: “We do not want Congress and UPA to continue in power. We will work for defeat of Congress and UPA.”

The BJP’s basic policies were “no different” from those of the Congress, he said, claiming that on the issue of corruption, the record of BJP-ruled states and that of the National Democratic Alliance government was “as bad or worse as (of) Congress and UPA”.

“Today, the challenge before us by the BJP and its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi is the challenge to the very edifice of secular society,” Karat said.

“We need alternative to BJP and Congress. Leaders of 11 parties resolved today to work together to present an alternative before the country,” he said, but remained non-committal on the front extending support to the Congress or taking support from it.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar ruled out any truck of his JD-U and the alliance led by the BJP after the elections, while Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav said that more parties will be included in the new front.

The 11 parties also issued a joint declaration which said that the rule of UPA-II government has been marked by “all-round problems and suffering by people”, while promising to work together for ending corruption and ensuring accountability in government and provide “a people-oriented development path” which addresses the issues of inequality, social justice, farmers’ interests, minorities and women’s rights.

The declaration said the leaders will also work to reverse “centralising model” at the centre and create a true federal system so that all states’ rights are assured, including special category status for states who deserve it.

The statement also urged other secular-democratic parties to join the front.

The parties attended a convention against communalism in October and met earlier this month for floor coordination in parliament.

IANS