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Regional parties begin efforts to form third front
Manoj C G in Allahabad | April 23, 2007 17:11 IST
Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav, Telugu Desam Party's Chandrababu Naidu, All India Anna Dravida Munnethra Kazhagam President J Jayalalithaa, Indian National Lok Dal chief Om Prakash Chautala and Asom Gana Parishad leader Brindavan Goswami, who addressed an election rally in Allahabad in support of Mulayam Singh Yadav, announced their plans to forge a third front to challenge "communalist BJP" and "corruption-ridden Congress".
While Jayalalithaa said a third front was a necessity and it could be formed, Naidu indicated it would take a definite shape after the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections.
Significantly, suspended Congress leader and former External Affairs Minister K Natwar Singh shared the dais with other leaders and lashed out at the UPA government's foreign policy and targeted party chief Sonia Gandhi for remaining silent on the execution of former Iraq President Saddam Hussein, who he referred to as "India's friend."
Addressing a rally for the first time in Hindi in her 28-year-long political career, the former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister trained guns at Gandhi on the Quattrocchi issue and criticised the government for not taking steps for bringing the Italian arms dealer to India.
"Gandhi is asking where have the Central funds given to UP gone. She should first explain what happened to the taxpayers' money siphoned off by her relative and friend (Ottavio) Quattrocchi. He fled with the taxpayers' money and the Congress and the Central government did not act and allowed him to flee," she said.
The AIADMK chief alleged that when Quattrocchi was arrested in a foreign country, the government did not make any efforts to bring him back to India to face trial in the Bofors case.
"The Congress is making a big issue out of the law and order situation in UP, whereas the security personnel are being attacked on a regular basis in Chhattisgarh and Hindi-speaking people are being targeted in Congress-ruled Assam," she said.
"The Congress is remaining a mute spectator to all this," she said. Jayalalithaa criticised Sonia Gandhi for the Congress joining hands with the DMK, saying, "Sonia Gandhi had described the DMK as her husband's killers.
This is enough to raise questions about her credentials." Almost all the leaders attacked Congress young turk Rahul Gandhi with Jayalalithaa criticising him for his remarks on late Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao, saying he did not know Indian culture which does not believe in talking ill about people who are no more. "He has been brought up in a Western atmosphere. Hence he is not aware of Indian culture," she said.
Mulayam Singh criticised the BJP, the BSP and the Congress and rained sops on the electorate that included free education, free medical care, free irrigation and employment for all qualified youth in the state.
"The BJP, the BSP and the Congress have not even announced their chief ministerial candidates and this shows that they are not confident of a victory in UP," he said.
He termed the Union budget as "pro-rich" and which ignored the interests of the common man. "It has only contributed to rise in prices," Singh said.
Naidu said while the Congress was trying to garner Muslim votes by raking up the Babri Masjid demolition issue and the creation of Bangladesh, BJP was taking resort in communal politics by releasing CDs having references to Gujarat riots and Ayodhya.
"The need of the hour is to oust BJP which is playing the communal card and the opportunist Congress," he said addressing the rally at K P College ground in Allahabad.
Asked about the formation of the third front, Naidu said, "After the UP elections, we will meet and take a decision on it. The third front should be based on alternative economic policies."
Natwar Singh said the outcome of the UP elections will decide who will be India's next President because the state has 403 MLAs, and 80 Lok Sabha and 25 Rajya Sabha MPs. "We will decide who will be India's next President," he said.
Attacking the government, he said this was the first time in the history of India that its foreign policy was decided outside the country and not in Delhi. Samajwadi Party leaders Amar Singh, S Bangarappa, Jaya Bachchan, Jaya Prada and Obaitullah Azmi also attacked the BJP, the Congress and the BSP.
AGP's Goswami said the Congress had destroyed the country. "We need to change the situation. After `Uttam Pradesh', we have to create a `Uttam Bharat'. This meeting is significant in that regard," he said. Chautala said the issue was not of the UP elections, but about changing the present order.
He also took a dig at the Left parties for supporting the Congress. "The Left has lent support to the Congress for the sake of secularism. But the Congress is only wearing the mask of secularism," Chautala said.