Third Front initiator Left yet to put its own house in order

Written by M Sarita Varma | Thiruvananthapuram | Updated: Mar 14 2009, 05:43am hrs
Even as CPI(M) supremo Prakash Karat and CPI general secretary AB Bardhan are riding the euphoria of Tumkur rally, the Left is yet to put its own house in order for the emerging Third Front. Apart from the embarrassment of RSP and Forward Bloc skipping Bangalore rally, the week of Third Front formation is awash with plenty of bad blood between CPI(M) and CPI in the red citadel Kerala.

As usual, its the seat-sharing where the shoe bites.

Its unusual for communist parties to squabble in limelight, but this time CPI(M) and CPI- the two biggest partners in Keralas Left Democratic Front (LDF)have thrown public decorum to the winds. The first jolting salvo came from CPI when it announced it would put up candidates at 18 seats, even taking on CPI(M) candidates directly.

This was the course of action, if CPI(M)-led LDF didnot yield Ponnani seat with CPI had been holding for long within March 16, Veliyam Bharghavan, state secretary, CPI, has warned.

Within 90 minutes of CPIs statement, came CPI(M)s retort pointing out the dangers of going solo. Pinarayi Vijayan, state secretary, CPI(M) reminded that in 1965, CPI had contested alone in 70 assembly seats, losing deposit in 54 seats. LDF coalition was formed in 1979 constituting CPI(M), CPI, RSP, Congress-S and Nationalist Congress Party.

In Kerala, Lok Sabha polls are scheduled for April 16. In the 2004 elections, the CPI-M had contested 14 seats, the CPI four and the JDS and the Kerala Congress (Joseph) contested one seat each. This time, JD-S too is at loggerheads with CPI(M) over Kozhikode seat.

The Ponnani seat is significant in CPI(M)s strategic agenda to capture the Muslim psyche of the state. Muslims constitue one-fourth of Keralas population and winning Ponnai seat, which has a robust Muslim voter-base, is seen as the door-opener to this agenda.

Although a senior CPI(M) politburo member has remarked that the spat in LDF will be resolved within the Kerala unit, there are wide apprehensions over the beating in the image of Left parties as the battle at hustings approaches.

At the same time, political observers dismiss the possibility of CPI leaving LDF. Troubleshooters within LDF are at work to thaw tensions before the crucial CPI party meet on March 16. Already, CPI(M)s highlight of the four seats in offer for CPI ( as against the three understood earlier) has dangled an olive branch of sorts.