NATIONAL

Secular forces should join hands: CPI

NEW DELHI NOV. 13. The Communist Party of India today emphasised the need for all secular parties to work towards defeating the Bharatiya Janata Party in the December 12 Gujarat Assembly polls and endorsed the strategy to engage it in a direct contest.

"In the interest of secular democracy, peace, stability and development in Gujarat and the rest of the country, every effort must be made by the secular parties to defeat the BJP in the Gujarat polls. For ensuring this there must be a one-to-one contest'' the CPI national executive said at the end of its two-day meeting here on Tuesday.

Briefing correspondents, the CPI general secretary, A.B. Bardhan, said that talks were on with the Congress in this direction, amid indications that the Samajwadi Party may eventually not be part of the joint Opposition line-up. Without making a direct reference, the CPI leader sought to blame the SP for its inability to come to an understanding with the Congress. Apparently, the SP's demand for a greater share of the seats was the reason for the understanding not coming through."If you agree to have a one-to-one contest, it should be followed by modest demands. If you have exaggerated demands nothing can be done,'' he said adding that for the sake of ensuring a direct contest, the Left parties had decided to seek one seat each. The CPI was critical of the Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, for keeping up his "vituperative communal offensive" which, it held responsible for fuelling continued tension in several parts of the State. It charged that the BJP, as part of its electoral strategy, was attempting "communal polarisation" and "hiding its failures on all other fronts", had asked the Vishwa Hindu Parishad to launch another yatra right in the midst of the election campaign. "This must be stopped so as to ensure a tension-free atmosphere," the CPI said.

On Jammu and Kashmir, it said a new chapter had been opened in the State, providing new opportunities for solving the Kashmir problem. The Centre should initiate a dialogue with the elected representatives and all other forces for granting autonomy to the State and to its regions under Article 370, it said. The party expressed concern over the economic situation in the country and said it disagreed with the policies being pursued by the Vajpayee Government.

The CPI said the Kelkar committee's recommendations were a "vicious attack" on the common people.

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