Apprehensive of the threat posed by the “corporate-communal alliance’’ to secular democracy, eminent academics and artistes on Saturday urged all political formations and “responsible individuals’’ to urgently take whatever steps are necessary for defending India’s secular democracy.

The appeal — issued under the banner of the Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust – also urged the electorate to vote against the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance. Many of the signatories to the statement are Left-oriented and associated with the Left parties which have adopted a policy of equi-distance from the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress.

According to the statement, never before in post-independence India have political forces, “ which are a front for an organisation committed to creating a Hindu Rashtra’’, made as strong a bid for power as in the coming elections. “These forces are led by a person who presided over a pogrom against Muslims in Gujarat in 2002 and has never expressed any contrition over his role in that “ghastly’’ incident.

Stating that these forces enjoy the backing of the most powerful corporate houses in the country, the statement said: “The prospect of this alliance of corporate capital and communal forces coming to power constitutes a palpable threat to the future of our secular democracy’’.

The signatories to the statement include Kumar Shahani, Jayati Ghosh, Prabhat Patnaik, Githa Hariharan, Irfan Habib, Saeed Mirza, Neeladri Bhattacharya, Harbans Mukhia, Jashodhara Bagchi, K. M. Srimali, Mushirul Hasan, Zoya Hasan, Neera Chandhoke and Neelima Sheikh.

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