Karat – Patnaik Send Alarms Jangling

Amid indications of the Lok Sabha battle converting into a mad rush for prospective allies after the May 16 declaration of results, CPI-M general secretary Prakash Karat on Friday met Orissa chief minister and BJD president Naveen Patnaik in Bhibaneswar to sound him out on the formation of a non-Congress and non-BJP government at the Centre.

Karat, viewed as the ideological driving force behind the newly-formed Third Front, spent around two hours in closed doors parleys with Patanaik at his residence.

Adding to the woes of both the Congressd-led UPA and the BJP-led NDA, the two leaders are reported to have reaffirmed their faith in each other.

“Our assessment is that non-Congress and non-BJP parties are well poised to form government at the Cente,” said Karat emerging from the meeting.

The Friday meeting between the two leaders was the first since the two-phase polls in Orissa. Karat said his party would adopt a “pragmatic” position after reviewing poll results, but stopped short of saying more on the topic.

Without confirming reports of the Third Front’s attempts to woo the ruling Janata Dal (United) in neighbouring Bihar, Karat said an appeal was being made to all like-minded parties to come together to form a non-Congress and non-BJP alternative.

Reiterating his earlier stand of not extending support to either of the two pan-Indian parties, Patnaik said his party and its allies were in a healthy position to offer an alternative.

On reports of Congress trying to rope in his support for government formation he said that the move was indicative of the desperation in the grand old party.

Firmly ruling his inclusion to the long-list of prime ministerial hopefuls, Patnaik expressed confidence of the BJD forming the state government in Orissa with a comfortable majority.

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