Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Prakash Karat met Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav on Wednesday to build a broad anti-communal platform.

This would not be just a party-based alliance, Mr. Karat told The Hindu amid speculation of a renewed effort by the Left parties to put together a “third alternative” to the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party.

This is Mr. Karat’s second meeting with the SP leader in the past few weeks. He also met Janata Dal (United) chief Sharad Yadav recently to bring together secular forces under one umbrella.

“Unless the government and all political and social forces rally together to safeguard our secular democratic pluralistic social order, the very future of modern India would be in peril,” the party had said in an editorial in the last issue of People’s Democracy.

Lest this be misconstrued as the CPI(M) signalling a willingness to work with the Congress — as opposed to its policy of remaining anti-BJP and anti-Congress — party leaders maintained that the editorial was written in the context of the National Integration Council meeting called in the wake of the recent communal violence in Muzaffarnagar.

Right now, according to Mr. Karat, the CPI(M) is concentrating on mobilising all secular forces — political and otherwise — against communalism. He and other Left leaders remain non-committal on whether the political parties who participate in the convention would tie up ahead of the next elections.

Still unwilling to break bread with the Congress, the Left parties appear to be hedging their bets on a 1996-like scenario when the absence of a clear mandate led to the formation of the United Front government with outside support of the Congress to keep the BJP at bay.

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