Wednesday, Jul 16, 2003
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By Our Special Correspondent
Speaking at his party's national youth convention, Mr. Gowda held out an olive branch to some of the "secular parties" in the ruling National Democratic Alliance. He urged them to leave the combine and coalesce around his party to defeat both the national parties. "My party cannot do it alone. Those who hate the Congress and are with the BJP should forget the past and join hands with us," he said.
Mr. Paswan told said that there was no need for a "third front". "What we need is an alternative in the form of a secular democratic alliance to fight the NDA and the Congress must take the initiative," he said.
While Mr. Paswan placed a premium on defeating the BJP-led NDA in the general elections at all costs, Mr. Gowda came down hard on both the BJP and the Congress, accusing them of being "different sides of the same coin". The JD (S) would contest on its own steam, irrespective of the result, in the coming Assembly elections.
Mr. Gowda drew a parallel between the Congress and the BJP.
Charging the Congress with merely paying lip service to secularism, he said "there is little to choose between the two parties". If the BJP practiced Hindutva, the Congress was not far behind, "it believes in soft Hindutva".
In choosing to attack both the mainline parties, Mr. Gowda said his party could be the pivot of a third option.
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