BJP still trying to placate ally JD(U)

On the eve of a meeting of the Janata Dal (United) in Patna, where the party is expected to take a call on its continuing in the National Democratic Alliance after Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s anointment as the election campaign committee chief, the CPI has said a federal front is not feasible.

In a written statement, veteran CPI leader A.B. Bardhan said, “Only a non-Congress non-BJP coalition, which pursues credible alternative policies on people’s issues, which steers the country on a Left and democratic course, is the need of the hour. Such a programme-based coalition government can emerge through struggles and may be after the polls. Only such a front can provide a viable alternative to the present dispensation. The Left parties are working towards that end.”

Separately, CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury met JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav here to discuss the emerging political situation. “What we want is alternative policies. Left parties have called a political convention for July 1. It will discuss the alternative policy framework,” Mr. Yechury told reporters after the 30-minute meeting with the NDA convener.

On Thursday, CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat, while ruling out any effort by the Left to forge a third front, said the electoral strategy would be only for a temporary arrangement based on seat adjustments and tactics.

The BJP went through the motions of wanting to appear to be doing all it can to keep the JD(U) in the NDA fold. Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, who, along with L.K. Advani was opposed to Mr. Modi’s elevation, tweeted on need for saving the alliance.

“Only a united opposition can defeat the Congress. Whenever Opposition got united, the Congress was defeated. Therefore, NDA’s unity is a historical necessity. We must do everything to keep the NDA united,” Ms. Swaraj said on Twitter.

New Front emerges

In another development, the former JD(U) general secretary, Shambhu Shrivastava, along with several other political activists and leaders committed to the ‘anti-Congress tradition’ and socialist ideals of George Fernandes, launched ‘Progressive Democratic Front’.

A meeting chaired by the former Chief Minister of Manipur, R.B. Koijam, elected Mr. Shrivastava, convener of the front. Its leaders were drawn from 14 States and included among others Brahmanand Mandal and Arun Kumar, former MPs from Bihar; Praveen Singh Jadeja, former Minister of Gujarat; Ram Babu Agarwal, former president of Samata Party (M.P.); and K.K. Tripathi and R.L. Lakhera. The meeting expressed disappointment at the “failure” of the Nitish Kumar government to solve the basic problems of the people of Bihar.