A repeat of the 1996-like situation is possible and the Congress may be forced to support a government of secular parties at the Centre to keep the BJP out of power, the CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat told the PTI in an ineterview.
He also did not rule out parties like the AIADMK joining an alternative front to keep the Narendra Modi-led BJP and the NDA out of power like it happened in 1996 when a government under Deve Gowda was formed with Congress supporting from outside.
“Well, depending on the results, there may be a situation where the Congress will have to play a role in terms of ensuring that there is a secular alternative government put in place.
“If the Congress does not want a BJP-led government, then it will have to play a role of contributiung to the formation of a secular alternative government...,” Mr. Karat said.
He acknowledged that the anti-Congress mood is helping BJP in States where the two parties are in direct fight but dismissed reports of a Modi wave across the country.
Mr. Karat said that there are powerful regional parties which are strong and fighting the BJP and they may not be joining the saffron party in forming the government.
The front of non-Congress, non-BJP parties would be able to cobble up a majority with outside support from Congress, he said.
“There are some secular parties which have opportunistically tied up with the BJP and we know who they are. But the bulk of the regional parties today who are in the non-Congress, non-BJP category have not aligned with either the Congress or the BJP in these elections.”
Asked if the Left parties, who had withdrawn support to the UPA-I government on the issue of nuclear deal with the U.S., would have problems dealing with Congress, Mr. Karat said that question will concern all the secular non-Congress parties.
“We will be able to come to a common understanding. I think, as against the BJP, most of these parties would not be averse to seeking the cooperation of the Congress,” he said.
To a question as to who will lead such a front, the CPI(M) leader said, “That is a post-election matter to be decided. As it happened in 1996, the combination or the alliance which is going to be forged will be a post-poll alliance.
“So, the question of the leader, etc., who will lead the alliance, will be discussed at that time. It will be premature to discuss it now.”
He also ruled out the possibility of the Congress staking the right to leadership of a government after it loses the election.
“Well, midway through the polling process and the election campaign, it is evident that the Congress is faring badly and it will face a big defeat.
“In an election, if the ruling party gets defeated, I don’t see how they can contemplate even forming a government or leading a government. That is not done,” Mr. Karat said.
He said the question now was who is benefitting from the anti-Congress trend among the people.
“The propaganda being made that there is a Modi wave is misleading because this anti-Congress mood is going to benefit other secular non-Congress parties, including the regional parties which are a substantial force in the country. So to claim that there is a Modi wave is just an obfuscating tactic by the BJP.”
Asked if the secular parties were refusing to see the writing on the wall on the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, Mr. Karat said the BJP will be benefited in States where it is the main contender to the Congress in a situation of anti-Congress mood.
But, he said, in a majority of States there was no bi-polar situation of the Congress versus the BJP. “So, State after State, if you see, it is the non-Congress secular parties and they range from some regional parties to various other parties, who are going to gain in such a situation.”
To a query about how many of them could be called secular parties and how confident he was that they won’t align with the BJP after the elections, Mr. Karat said a bulk of these parties have not aligned with the Congress or the BJP in these elections and they have substantial base and support among the people. “We had about six-seven major regional parties which, along with the Left parties, had discussed this matter before the elections and said that we will fight the elections against the Congress and the BJP, and after the elections, we will cooperate and come together.”
He said the main aim of the non-Congress secular formation would be to see that the BJP and its allies do not come to power.
“That is the >mid-course shift in focus . It is evident that the Congress is going to lose these elections. So the main contender would be the BJP and its allies and non-Congress secular parties.”
Mr. Karat expressed confidence that the Left block, which had a record 64 seats in 2004 and was reduced to 24 in the outgoing Lok Sabha, would do well in the current elections.
“We are confident of improving the strength of the CPI(M) and the Left in these elections. We have only one hurdle which we have to overcome, which is the tactics of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) in West Bengal that is rigging elections.”