No political meaning should be read into collective effort to fight the evil, say parties

The Nationalist Congress Party, a United Progressive Alliance constituent, has decided to participate in the Left-backed attempt to form a broad secular platform to counter “the systematic campaign by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-run organisations to create communal tensions”.

Though Wednesday’s ‘Convention Against Communalism and for Unity of People’ has brought together a UPA constituent and some erstwhile members of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance, leaders of at least four participating parties on Tuesday said no “political meaning” should be read into this collective effort to combat communalism.

Briefing mediapersons here, CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury parried questions whether this could lead to a repeat of UPA-I – when the Left parties the Congress from the outside. “UPA-I was a post-poll alliance,” he pointed out, reiterating that it was a bid to protect the secular democratic fabric of India from the onslaught of communal forces.

Asked whether the absence of the Congress from this platform could be construed as its being “anti-secular”, K. C. Tyagi of the Janata Dal (United) said: “This platform is not closed to anyone.”

However, the CPI(M) has been maintaining for the past several weeks that it is a bid to bring together non-Congress, non-BJP forces committed to secularism and maintaining India’s composite culture.

Amarjit Kaur of the CPI maintained that this was a juncture in the country’s history when an intervention of this sort was necessary as the secular democratic edifice was under threat. Asked if this was a bid to counter the rise of Gujarat Chief Minister and BJP’s prime ministerial aspirant, the refrain was, “This is not just about Modi” but the kind of politics that he represented.. “His emergence itself is a threat.”

Besides the CPI(M), the CPI, the JD(U) and the NCP, the parties slated to participate in the convention are the Samajwadi Party, the Biju Janata Dal, the Janata Dal-Secular, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha, the Asom Gana Parishad, the Republican Party of India, the Forward Bloc, the People’s Party of Punjab and the Revolutionary Socialist Party.

Several intellectuals and artistes are also expected to turn up but no new names apart from those on the organising committee — U. R. Ananthamurthy, Shyam Benegal and Mallika Sarabhai — were mentioned. “There could be some surprises,” quipped Mr. Yechury when pressed for further details.

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