NATIONAL

Secular parties should unite to fight BJP: Shahabuddin

NEW DELHI. FEB. 26. The All-India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat (AIMMM), headed by Syed Shahabuddin, has called on all secular parties to unite and pave the way for the formation of a secular democratic front at the national as well as State levels. "The main aim is to ensure a one-to-one fight against the BJP/ NDA combine," Mr. Shahabuddin said.

In a statement issued this afternoon, the AIMMM president suggested that the strongest party at the Central and State levels should coordinate with the alliance in order to minimise the chances of infighting. If a formal alliance was not possible the secular parties should "contest only those seats which they had won or had come second in the 1999 Lok Sabha elections in order to avoid a division of the secular vote." Mr. Shahabuddin requested the secular parties that "as far as possible they should field candidates belonging to the minority community from areas where their vote share is more than 20 per cent." He said the main aim of all secular and democratic thinking people should be to ensure that the National Democratic Alliance did not get a second term. "They should liberate democracy and secularism from the current state of siege by defeating the forces of Hindu nationalism, fanaticism and fascism."