Virtually launching the campaign for the next general elections, Left parties on Monday said no national alliance was possible without them and asked all democratic and secular forces to unite on the basis of an ‘alternative’ policy platform against the ‘anti-people, neo-liberal’ measures pursued both by Congress and BJP.

Asserting that there was no real difference between the Congress and the BJP on policy issues, top leaders of the four Left parties said the two major parties stood for policies and programmes “which are not in the interests of the people but represent the interest of a narrow strata.”

“What is required today is the rejection of the policies and the political platform of the Congress and the BJP,” the leaders of CPI(M), CPI, RSP and Forward Bloc said at a joint national political convention here where they unanimously adopted a declaration and a 10-point alternative policy platform.

The leaders, including Prakash Karat, Sitaram Yechury (both CPI-M), A.B. Bardhan, S Sudhakar Reddy (both CPI), Debabrata Biswas (Forward Bloc) and Abani Roy (RSP), appealed to all democratic and secular parties to “support this platform in the interests of the vast masses of exploited and impoverished people.”

They also asked their cadres to carry out a nationwide campaign on the issues raised in the charter and organise rallies and meetings for the next four months.

“The Lok Sabha polls are slated next year, but they can happen earlier also. We can forge a front of non-Congress, non-BJP parties for these elections. But our experience has shown that nothing can be achieved like that.

“No alternative can be possible if it is forged only for elections. It has to be on the basis of an alternative policy platform which will provide succour to the people who have been badly hit by the neo-liberal policies pursued both by the Congress and the BJP,” said Mr. Karat.

CPI General Secretary Sudhakar Reddy said both the Congress-led UPA and BJP-led NDA have been “beset with contradictions and shrunk in size.”

While BJP now has two allies Shiv Sena and Akali Dal from a tally of 24 during NDA rule under Atal Bihari Vajpayee, major partners of UPA like DMK and Trinamool Congress have walked away from it, he said.

Both parties “are not only competing to indulge in massive corruption”, but were also pursuing “disastrous economic policies” at the Centre and in states ruled by them, Mr. Reddy said.

Veteran CPI leader Bardhan predicted that UPA and NDA should be happy if they got more than 110-120 seats in the next elections. “It will be a miracle if they do,” he said, adding that “there are no takers for either Rahul Gandhi or Modi.”

Observing that some parties wanted a non-Congress, non-BJP formation before elections and some others after it, he made it clear that such an alliance “will not work without policy platform that is opposed to neo-liberal policies and also without the Left.”

CPI(M)’s Yechury said the Left parties are appealing to secular and democratic parties to “realise that the people want measures which could save them from the burden of poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, lack of healthcare and other basic necessities of life. It is only these alternative policies which would be able to provide that.”

He said it was only the Left parties that could lead in forming an alternative political alliance based on the alternative policy platform.

Debabrata Biswas (Forward Bloc) pointed towards the large-scale alienation of rural folk from landholdings, being dispossessed of livelihood opportunities, facing the burden of high prices and unemployment, and corruption on a mass scale.

The Left parties adopted a declaration which spoke of the plight of the people “due to the nature of capitalist development which favours the rich and harms the poor” and the national politics being “dominated by money power.”

“While the people face miserable conditions, the UPA government has allowed the loot of natural resources like land, minerals, gas and spectrum by the corporates and big business. The neo-liberal regime under the UPA government has spawned corruption on a large scale, with no sector being spared from corruption scandals,” it said.

The declaration also said the BJP represented a “more regressive variant of the present (UPA) regime” and referred to the major corruption cases in Karnataka and the ‘Gujarat model’ of Narendra Modi as an “unalloyed mix” of free market capitalism and reactionary politics.

The 10-point charter referred to a range of issues — from land reform measures and remunerative prices for farmers, universalisation of public distribution system to no FDI in retail trade, adoption of an “independent” foreign policy and stepping up public investment for infrastructure.

It also sought nationalisation of mining, plugging loopholes in taxation measures, regulation of speculative financial flows, apart from increased allocation in health and education.

The charter spoke of firm measures to curb corruption and enactment of Lokpal Bill, electoral reforms, rights of the working classes, minimum wages and social security measures and on the rights of women, tribals, SCs and STs and minorities, including implementation of the Justice Ranganath Committee recommendations.

The Left parties also sought incorporation in the Constitution of separation of religion and the State as the basic principle of secularism and demanded firm action against communal forces.

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