Tumkur, Karnataka: Nine political parties gathered near Tumkur city on Thursday to launch the Third Front, an alliance it leaders say is an alternative to the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The leaders of Janata Dal-Secular, Communist Party of India-Marxist, Communist Party of India, Revolutionary Socialist Party, Forward Bloc, Telugu Desam Party, AIADMK, Telangana Rashtra Samiti and the Bahujan Samaj Party claim they can give the nation a stable government.
The biggest names of the Third Front, Prakash Karat of the CPI-M, A B Bardhan of the CPI, Chandrababu Naidu of the TDP and JD-S leader H D Deve Gowda, spoke glowing about the alliance. But several top leaders were missing at the launch.
BSP chief Mayawati, who has been projected as a possible prime ministerial candidate of the front, sent her senior party leader Satish Mishra in her place.
AIADMK chief Jayalalitha, too, skipped the rally and sent her party leader, Maithreyan. The Telangana Rashtra Samiti is being represented by party chief K Chandrashekhar Rao's son, T Rama Rao.
The Revolutionary Socialist Party and the Forward Bloc too have only sent representatives.
Gowda, a former prime minister and the driving force behind the Front, called upon the people to vote for a "democratic and secular" government in the April-May Lok Sabha polls.
"This is a historic get-together of all the democratic, secular and Left parties to declare that we are all coming together to constitute a third force in this country," said Karat, who was the first of the leaders to address the rally in English.
He said the non-BJP, non-Congress coalition would stand for the interests of the vast majority of Indians, defend secular values and fight for social justice.
"Today, we have come together because the country needs a new alternative," he added.
Karat, whose party withdrew support to the Congress-led government in July last year over the India-US nuclear deal, said successive governments had failed to resolve grave economic problems confronting the country.
Sixty years after independence, he said, 230 million people were suffering in poverty, 40 percent of children below three years did not have enough to eat, 50 percent of women were anaemic and 39 percent of the people were illiterate.
Don’t fear Third Front: Karat tells industry
Karat, while speaking to CNN-IBN earlier, said people’s “perception” about the Third Front would change.
“Perceptions will change. In states where our coalition is running governments much development has taken place and industry has grown. I don’t see why industry or corporates should feel that this coalition will be less favourable or hostile to them,” he said.
Karat alleged the UPA Government’s claim of progress is hollow. “What does 9 percent growth mean for common man? We still have farmers committing suicide. We have shortage of food items, which makes life miserable for common man.”
“The government has been unable to tackle the growing crisis of economic slowdown. The Congress has failed to meet the aspirations of people. Under Congress rule the rich have become super rich and poor more poorer,” the CPI-General Secretary told CNN-IBN’s Smitha Nair.
The Congress dismissed the new alliance and said it would not work because everybody in it wants to be the Prime Minister. "I don't think there is any leader or party in the Third Front who would not want to be PM. When the time comes to select the PM candidate, the Third Front will split," said Ghulam Nabi Azad, Congress leader in charge of the party in Karnataka.
Third Front leaders A B Bardhan and H D Kumaraswamy said the alliance would select its PM candidate later.
However, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee also reacted to the formation of the third front warning regional parties about joining with the CPI(M).
"I request all the regional parties that they should not ally with CPIM as they are oppressors and they would finish the country so let them stay in their own grave." Mamta Said.
(With inputs from CNN-IBN and IANS.)