Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav made a strong pitch on Monday for a third force at the national level.

On his maiden visit to Chennai after he assumed office last year, Mr. Yadav told journalists that there was enough space for a political formation opposed to both the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party, as the two parties had failed the people on many fronts, and their policies had not been “pro-poor.”

Mr. Yadav later called on his Tamil Nadu counterpart Jayalalithaa. Neither Chief Minister commented on the meeting, but official circles termed it a courtesy call.

Asked whether the proposed third front was workable, given that such an attempt came a cropper in 2009, Mr. Yadav said in Hindi: “It should work out.”

Referring to the participation of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi at the meetings of industry bodies held recently, Mr Yadav said in a sarcastic tone that the CII and the FICCI propped them up as a pair (jodi) of leaders. But only those who felt the pain of the poor, farmers and rural people could emerge as true leaders.

Earlier, Mr. Yadav said the process for making Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh head of a third force and possibly, Prime Minister (after the 2014 Lok Sabha elections] should begin from the south. “The political initiative for such an eventuality should begin with your support,” he said, inaugurating the Vanniyar youth festival organised here by the Pattali Makkal Katchi-backed Vanniyar Sangham here.

He was responding to PMK founder S. Ramadoss’s remark that Mr. Singh should head the country.

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