Congress comes wooing, Left spurns move

August 8th, 2008 - 3:13 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Bharatiya Janata Party

New Delhi, Aug 8 (IANS) Concerned over the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) attempt to consolidate Hindu votes through emotive issues, the Congress has tried to persuade its estranged Communist allies to stand together for strengthening “secular forces”. But the Communists rejected the overtures. Keen to put up a broad united face against the BJP’s backing to the Amarnath land row, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who was the main interlocutor between the government and the Left over the India-US nuclear deal, called the four Left parties for a meeting to discuss the Jammu unrest.

Mukherjee telephoned leaders of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), Communist Party of India (CPI), Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) and Forward Bloc requesting them to attend a special meeting.

The Left parties, which withdrew their legislative support to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government over the nuclear deal last month, rejected Mukherjee’s request.

But they attended the all-party meeting convened by the prime minister to tackle the imbroglio over land transfer to the Amarnath shrine board that has led to violent protests in Jammu and Kashmir.

Hiding his disappointment, Mukherjee talked to Left leaders separately during Wednesday’s all-party meeting at the prime minister’s residence.

According to senior Congress leaders, the ruling party was keen to keep the Communists on their side as they fear that the BJP and its ideological parent the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) are making attempts to “whip up communal passions” for electoral gains over the Amarnath row as well as the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project.

The BJP and some Hindu groups have been protesting the govenrment’s move to build a shorter navigational sea route around India’s southern tip, saying it would damage a bridge said to have been built by Hindu god Ram.

Although it has no love for the Congress, the CPI-M has blamed the BJP and the RSS on charges of whipping up communal passions for electoral gains.

In the latest issue of the party mouthpiece ‘People’s Democracy’, the CPI-M has said: “The fact that the RSS/BJP has given a call for a three-day all-India bandh on this issue is indicative of its desire to utilise it to whip up communal passions further in order to try and consolidate its `Hindu vote bank’.”

Meanwhile, CPI-M general secretary Prakash Karat Thursday denied having said that his party would never support the Congress in future.

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