Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Prakash Karat conceded on Saturday that the Left would not have a strong presence in the next Lok Sabha to influence policy even if a third alternative government was formed with Congress support.

He was responding to reports suggesting that the Congress was wary of doing business with the Left for fear that the CPI(M) will try to steer the country away from economic liberalisation.

Fielding questions on a range of issues during an interaction with the media, Mr. Karat refused to be drawn into speculation on whether the CPI(M) would be open to having the Trinamool Congress in the third alternative if required. “We will have to wait and see because it is a party which has earlier had no hesitation to go with the BJP. Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee’s attitude to [BJP prime ministerial candidate] Narendra Modi will become clear only after the elections,” he said, dismissing her anti-BJP statements as poll rhetoric. “It is very possible that she will join the NDA now and leave just before the West Bengal Assembly elections to get the Muslim vote.”

Maintaining that the widespread anti-Congress sentiment was being misinterpreted as a “Modi wave,” Mr. Karat insisted that the BJP alone would not benefit from this mood; even non-Congress secular parties stood to gain.

On the potential constituents of the third alternative, Mr. Karat pointed out that not one of the 11 signatories to the February 25 statement had gone with the Congress or the BJP. He also indicated the possibility of a couple of other parties joining this alternative, underscoring that the Congress would have to be integral to such a grouping.

About the stability of a third alternative, given past experience, the CPI(M) leader maintained that it was not the smaller parties but the Congress which destabilised two United Front governments.

About the Samajwadi Party’s alleged communal campaign, he said many of the statements attributed to the party were essentially made to counter the RSS propaganda that has been gathering steam ever since the Akhilesh Yadav government came to power in Uttar Pradesh.