Two years ahead of the general elections, a group of eight regional parties on Wednesday launched a new national front as an alternative to the Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party.
The name, organisational structure and other details of the front will be worked out soon, All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief J Jayalalithaa told reporters in Hyderabad.
The announcement came after a three hour meeting of regional parties hosted by Telugu Desam Party chief and former Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu.
"It will be a viable national alternative to Congress and BJP. The details will be worked out at our next meeting to be held at Chennai," Jayalalithaa said.
Claiming that more parties were expected to join the front in the coming days, she said: "Our front is open to all secular parties interested in nation building."
Asked whether the Left parties will also be part of the new front, she said, "It entirely depends on them."
The conclave of the regional parties, hosted by Naidu, was attended by Jayalalithaa (AIADMK), Mulayam Singh Yadav and Amar Singh (Samajwadi Party), Brindavan Goswami (Asom Gana Parishad), Omprakash Choutala (Indian National Lok Dal), Babulal Marandi (Jharkhand Vikas Morcha) and Vaiko (Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam) while K J Thomas of Kerala Congress sent a letter of support.
The idea of floating a new front was first discussed at Allahabad, where leaders of some of the regional parties had
met during the Uttar Pradesh Assembly election campaign recently.
"Today, we are more in number and the next time when we meet in Chennai, we hope more parties will join," Jayalalithaa said, adding that the date will be announced soon.
The leaders also decided to chalk out a common strategy for the ensuing presidential and vice-presidential elections at their next meeting in Chennai, the date for which is yet to be fixed.
"All the leaders who were present in Hyderabad on Wednesday had very wide-ranging and fruitful discussions on several issues of national importance such as the Indo-US nuclear deal. All the leaders present here today resolved to firmly oppose Indo-US nuclear deal which, we feel, is totally detrimental to India's interests. We have all resolved to firmly oppose this deal," Jayalalithaa told newsmen at the briefing after the three-hour long meeting.
SP president and former UP chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, general secretary Amar Singh and former Karnataka chief minister S Bangarappa, AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa, MDMK president Vaiko, AGP president Brindaban Goswami, INLD president and former Haryana chief minister Om Prakash Chautala, Jharkhand Vikas Morcha president and former Jharkhand chief minister Babulal Marandi participated in the conclave held at Naidu's Jubilee Hills residence.
Kerala Congress leader K J Thomas, who was expected to attend, did not turn up. He promised to attend the next meeting.
"We have also discussed new economic policy which has to be taken up and implemented by the Central government. Very recently, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh himself has admitted that even though India's growth rate has been quite impressive, yet real benefits have not reached the common man. In this context, we are constrained to point out that we are extremely concerned and distressed at the all-round increase in prices of all essential commodities ever since this UPA government took over the reins of administration at the Centre," Jayalalithaa pointed out.
The conclave, the second one after the April 23 meeting at Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh, has attracted participation from two more parties -- Jharkhand Vikas Morcha and MDMK-- compared to the earlier meeting.
Jayalalithaa announced that the third conclave would be held be hosted by her at Chennai. Though the date for the meeting is yet to be decided, it will be held before the presidential polls get underway.
"The entire burden of the price rise has fallen on the middle classes and the poorer sections of society. We feel that the wrong and skewed economic policies of the UPA government are entirely to blame for the all round price increase that has made life very difficult for the common man," the AIADMK chief said.
"We are of the opinion that the Indian farmers have been receiving a very raw deal from this government. I have had occasion to point outearlier that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram and Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia, who control the country's finances have all been educated abroad. That is why, they are totally out of touch with the problems faced by Indian farmers and they are unable to realise the extent of suffering undergone by the Indian farmers," she pointed out.
"Today, the agriculture sector is declining. The UPA government has not done anything to benefit the agriculturists. We cannot afford to allow agriculture to be declining this way. That is why, the leaders of this front are of the firm opinion that the Central government should provide every subsidy to the agriculture sector just as the United States is doing about agriculture," she said, expressing the common feeling of the regional leaders who had gathered at Hyderabad.
"We have also discussed the forthcoming presidential elections. On this subject, we have had a preliminary discussion today and we have resolved to meet again at Chennai. The date of our next meeting will be finalized later," she added.
With PTI Inputs