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Draw lessons from UF experience: Raja

By Our Special Correspondent

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, MAY 2. The CPI national secretary, D. Raja, has said that secular and democratic parties ranged against the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) must draw appropriate lessons from the 1996 United Front (UF) experience.

Mr. Raja, in Kerala to campaign for the LDF candidates in the Lok Sabha election, told a news conference here today that the primary task before the secular and democratic forces in the country was to dislodge the BJP from power because the NDA was nothing but a mechanism for the BJP and the RSS to take over the State apparatus. The 1996 United Front experience showed the need for unity among secular and democratic forces so that the NDA Government could be replaced with a secular and democratic alternative founded on the principles of federalism and social justice, he said.

The CPI secretary said the indications were that the vote in this election would be for a change of government at the Centre. The Opposition parties had the duty to respect the verdict of the people and provide an alternative. Once the elections were over, all secular and democratic parties would sit together and give shape to such an alternative, he asserted.

He brushed aside the BJP criticism that a vote for the Opposition would be a vote for instability and said the BJP was raising such a `bogey' only to create confusion in the minds of people. The Opposition parties had learnt from past experience and gained enough maturity to arrive at decisions that would reflect the will of the people, he said.

Mr. Raja said though Congress was one of the secular parties in the country, it had been hobnobbing with the Hindutva forces and encouraging communal forces as was being done by the Kerala Chief Minister, A. K. Antony. It was the Congress that raised the demand for a ban on cow slaughter and Mr. Antony's record was one of appeasement of Hindutva forces, he said.

He said his party had not taken a decision so far to participate in the new government. The question would be taken up by the party national executive meeting slated for May 15 and 16, depending on the post-poll scenario.

On the exchanges between the RJD chief, Laloo Prasad Yadav, and the Samajwadi Party leader, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Mr. Raja said both were constant fighters against Hindu communalism and would stand firm in their opposition to the NDA. Referring to Mr. Mulayam Yadav's statement that he would not go to the NDA, he said the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister was a person who meant what he said.

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