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Secular govt a priority: Basu

Rediff Election Bureau | May 13, 2004 22:34 IST

CPI (M) leader Jyoti Basu has made it clear that the Left's first priority would be to install a secular government at the centre.

To this end, he will be flying to Delhi tomorrow.

Basu, who is 90 and was in contention for the post of prime minister in the alliance that was cobbled together after the 1996 elections, said he was not in the race this time. "I am not in the race. I hope not. I am not keeping good health."

In an interview to television news channel, NDTV, Basu said he did not foresee any problem with the Congress despite their differing ideologies. "We have been fighting the Congress on economic policies for a long time. Yet we supported them on the issue of nationalisation. We supported them on the issue of setting up public sector undertakings in important areas. Unfortunately, we blindly followed the advice of the IMF and the World Bank. It is good to take advice, but one must consider the opinions of our own experts as well."

Accepting that differences existed between the partners in the Congress led alliance, he said the most important thing was to put together a common minimum programme.

He dubbed the feel-good factor propagated by the NDA as foolish and said he was happy with the performance of his party.

Basu, who has been in politics for 63 odd years and chief minister of West Bengal for 26 and a half years, dubbed this election as historic. "After 50-odd years, we are seeing communal attacks on Muslims for the first time [under the BJP rule]. We saw a communal party leading 25 other parties to form a government at the Centre."

Basu added, "Hindutva does not mean Hinduism. Hindus do not believe in attacking other religions. Besides, our Constitution makes it clear that the State has no religion. All that was given the go-by by the BJP and the parties behind it -- the RSS, the VHP and the Bajrang Dal. When they realised the feel-good factor did not work, they returned to Hinduvta and the Ram temple."

He reiterated that the CPI (M) was committed to ensuring a non-BJP government at the Centre.

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India Votes 2004

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