Left, Right join hands in bandh against Centre
The nationwide bandh called by opposition parties on Thursday saw the unusual spectacle of Left leaders sharing the stage with top BJP leaders here. They also seemed to follow the same script, with both the Left and Right accusing the UPA government of being "anti-poor, anti-national and pro-US".
However, while CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury and CPI leader A B Bardhan joined BJP president Nitin Gadkari, senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi and NDA convener Sharad Yadav at a protest organised by a traders' body, Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav chose to stay away.
Mulayam instead participated in a joint protest with CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat, CPI leaders S Sudhakar Reddy and D Raja, TDP's Chandrababu Naidu and JD(S)'s H D Deve Gowda just some metres away. They all courted arrest along with Yechury and Bardhan, but were later released.
While stating that there was no formal alliance at present, Mulayam said Thursday's united action had the potential of evolving into another front. Asked whether this would lead to the emergence of a Third Front, he said: "What will be a bigger example than this?"
Stating that his party would "not tolerate" anti-people decisions like an increase in diesel prices and FDI in retail, Mulayam reiterated that the SP was supporting the UPA government only to keep "communal forces" at bay. "But we will not support price rise," he said.
He said if the UPA government did not roll back its decisions immediately, "we will announce together a strategy to hold a big agitation." Karat urged Mulayam to lead the fight against the government, both inside and outside Parliament.
Interestingly, although the BJD was among the eight parties that had given the protest call, none of its leaders was present. Karat said the BJD had observed a protest day on September 17. In Bhubaneswar, BJD leader and Orissa minister Kalpataru Das said the party decided not to join the bandh as it coincided with Nuakhai festival.
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