Pawar stays away as BJD-NCP-Left launch joint front (Second Lead)

April 3rd, 2009 - 7:44 pm ICT by IANS  

P. Chidambaram Bhubaneswar, April 3 (IANS) Sharad Pawar did not attend in person but his Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), a key constituent of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA), joined Orissa’s ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and the Left parties for a joint poll campaign here Friday.
A day after the Congress said it would be better if Pawar did not share a platform with those opposed to it, the NCP chief chose to address the rally over the phone.

“I would have liked to address the rally but could not because of a technical snag in the aircraft,” Pawar said before the telephone line snapped.

Addressing the rally, attended by more than 10,000 people, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, whose 11-year coalition with the BJP ended last month, said his fight against communal forces and the Congress would continue.

“Orissa is a peaceful state but the BJP and its affiliates are trying to destroy communal harmony. People of Orissa will give a befitting reply to BJP for its communal politics,” Patnaik said.

Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) general secretary Prakash Karat and Communist Party of India (CPI) leaders A.B. Bardhan and D. Raja praised Patnaik for taking strong steps to check communal forces.

“BJP wants to make India a Hindu rastra but they should know India was not created on the basis of theology like Pakistan. We don’t want another Pakistan in India,” Karat said.

“Naveen Patnaik has given a new turn to Indian politics by breaking away from BJP,” added Raja. “We will provide him all support to fight communal forces.”

As speculation mounted over Pawar’s absence and whether he had done a U turn after agreeing to participate in the rally, NCP general secretary D.P. Tripathy said the facts should not be interpreted “differently”.

Efforts to arrange another plane, he said, had not been successful.

Pawar also sought to quell the buzz and said he was not part of the Left or any Third Front but did have an association with the BJD.

“I am not part of a Third Front or Left Front. My association is with the BJD, not Left parties… We want to continue with the UPA (United Progressive Alliance),” Pawar told a television channel.

“We are not going with Left parties anywhere in India,” he added.

The clarification came a day after union Home Minister and Congress leader P. Chidambaram said in New Delhi: “He has an alliance with us in Maharashtra and attempts are there to stitch an alliance in Gujarat. It would be good if he doesn’t share a platform with parties who are opposed to Congress.”

The BJD has refrained from calling the rally a Third Front show of force and had clarified that it had organised the rally because it has a seat sharing arrangement with the other parties.

The BJD forged a partnership with the NCP and the Left parties after they voted for it during a trust vote in the assembly. It has left three Lok Sabha and 17 assembly seats to them.

Orissa goes to elections April 16 and 23 to elect 147 members to the state assembly and 21 members to the Lok Sabha.

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