Mayawati, Third Front leaders meet but skirt leadership issue (Roundup)

March 16th, 2009 - 1:16 am ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, March 15 (IANS) Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati and Third Front leaders, who met over dinner here to discuss Lok Sabha election strategies, said there was no decision on any prime ministerial candidate but added they would join hands to form a strong alternative to the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
After the dinner which was a matter of intense political speculation over the weekend, Mayawati, flanked by the leaders of the newly formed Third Front, read out a prepared statement saying they would all contest elections to prevent a government led either by the Congress or the BJP.

Mayawati as well as the Third Front leaders refused to answer mediapersons’ queries, including on the question of the prime ministerial candidate.

Prakash Karat and Sitaram Yechury of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), A.B. Bardhan of the Communist Party of India (CPI), H.D. Deve Gowda of the Jahata Dal-Secular (JD-S), K. Chandra Shekhar Rao of the Telangana Rashtra Samiti, N. Chandrababu Naidu of the Telugu Desam Party and other leaders of the Third Front met Mayawati at her new residence on the Rakabganj Road here.

The dinner meet, keenly awaited after the speculation that Mayawati would join the Third Front only if she was projected as prime ministerial candidate, began around 7.30 p.m. and lasted for about two hours while her house was converted into a fortress. Scores of journalists waited outside behind barricades.

However, at the end of it, the leaders refused to spell out the content of their discussions.

The statement read out by Mayawati, Uttar Pradesh chief minister, in Hindi said: “All senior leaders discussed in detail the current political situation in the context of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. All leaders decided that we will together present a strong, thoroughly secular non-Congress-non-BJP alternative before the nation that will form the government after the elections.

“Our policies will be completely in the national interest, in the interest of people,” Mayawati said after the dinner meeting.

Earlier in the day, Mayawati told a press conference here that she would go it alone in the elections and consider alliance options later.

The Left and other regional parties also held a meeting earlier and said the prime ministerial candidate would be decided after the elections.

Bardhan later said the front will have adjustment on some seats with the BSP.

The Third Front was launched by the four Left parties and six regional parties in Karnataka Thursday.

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