New Delhi, Oct. 27: CPI and Forward Bloc leaders today shared the stage with Mulayam Singh Yadav to project the Samajwadi Party chief as the fulcrum of a non-Congress, non-BJP "third alternative" but once-bitten senior Left partner CPM chose to stay away.
Although CPM politburo member Sitaram Yechury claimed he was not aware of the event, some of the organisers said party leaders had turned down their invite.
Former CPI general secretary A.B. Bardhan, however, sounded upbeat as he urged Mulayam to take the lead in uniting communists, socialists and other Left and democratic forces. He said the time was right to work towards forming a third front.
"It is my long cherished idea to bring together the communists, socialists, Left and democratic forces. I hope Mulayam Singh Yadav will take the lead and try to bring all (of them) together. Mulayam should take a vow in this direction," Bardhan said.
CPI leader Atul Anjan presided over the event, organised to release five volumes of speeches made in the Lok Sabha by the late socialist leader Ram Manohar Lohia.
Mulayam released the volumes at the meet, which was also attended by CPI general secretary Sudhakar Reddy, Forward Bloc veteran Debabrata Biswas and N. Nageshwar Rao, the Telugu Desam's parliamentary party leader.
Asked why no one from the CPM had turned up, sources said they were not enthusiastic about the prospects of a "third alternative", reflecting the party's scepticism since general secretary Prakash Karat's failed bid in 2009.
Karat had gone all out to project BSP chief Mayawati as the future Prime Minister of a non-Congress, non-BJP front in the run-up to the last parliamentary elections, but his plans flopped.
At its party congress held earlier this year, the CPM abandoned the idea of a third alternative. "Given all these factors, it is not feasible to create a third alternative based on a programme with these parties," Karat wrote in party journal Marxist after the congress.
The CPM is, however, ready for joint struggles with "secular" parties on issues like FDI in retail.
The man in the limelight, Mulayam, also did not appear too enthusiastic about a "third alternative" taking shape. He expressed his readiness to lead but pointed out that apart from the socialists and the Left, more parties needed to come together.
"Socialists and the Left are together. There is very little ideological difference between us. But we have to get more parties," the former Uttar Pradesh chief minister pointed out, alluding to the fact that only the Desam and the Forward Bloc were the other parties on the stage.
He also pointed out that the shape of a third alternative would be clear only after the polls. "I am ready," he said, keeping in mind that he needed to keep his socialist friends happy. "I am with you on whatever resolution you adopt in the interest of the country."
Sources said Mulayam, who nurses ambitions of becoming Prime Minister after the next Lok Sabha elections, feels that given the current political situation it would be difficult to realise his goal without the support of the Congress.
Which is why, they said, Mulayam is still backing the UPA government despite differences on various policy measures.