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|January 6, 1998||
New front vows to back Congress
The Congress has got a boost with the launch of a friendly political formation, the Jan Morcha, comprising major regional parties of the Hindi heartland, which plan exclusively to take on the Bharatiya Janata Party in the general election.
Unlike the United Front, which treats both the BJP and the Congress as political rivals, the Jan Morcha is expected to take and give support to the Congress in various states -- Bihar, Gujarat, Punjab and possibly Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka -- with the sole purpose of checkmating the BJP.
''Our principal aim is to see that the BJP does not get to the 190 mark it secured in the eleventh Lok Sabha,'' says Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Kanshi Ram, who launched the alternative secular front at Bihar Nivas in New Delhi on Monday evening along with Rashtriya Janata Dal President Laloo Prasad Yadav.
The constituents of the Front include the RJD, the BSP, then Rashtriya Janata Party of Shankarsinh Vaghela, the Samajwadi Janata Party of former prime minister Chandra Shekhar, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, and three separate Telegana outfits from Andhra Pradesh. The Bharatiya Kisan Kamgar Party of Ajit Singh, which was present at previous meetings, was conspicuous by its absence on Monday. But Laloo Yadav said it was likely that the BKKP would join the Jan Morcha.
For the Congress it is yet another shot in the arm after Sonia Gandhi's decision to campaign for the party.
Laloo Yadav announced that the group will have a presidium and a collective leadership. The Morcha will soon finalise a joint campaign along with the Congress during the election. Constituents are free to enter into any seat adjustment on a state-to-state basis with the Congress and other secular parties to defeat the BJP. But it has also been decided that any constituent with a large presence in a state will take decisions on seat adjustments. So the RJD will call the shots in Bihar, the RJP in Gujarat and the BSP in Uttar Pradesh.
Laloo Yadav clarified that the Congress was not a member of the front and had sent no representatives to any meeting. All the Morcha hoped to do by backing the Congress was to contain the BJP, he said.
The Morcha is expected to release its common minimum programme shortly to clarify its stand on major issues. It has clarified, though, that it proposed to take up the causes dear to farmers, workers and dalits, and that all its policies would centre around these groups.
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