The gathering, convened by Left parties, brought together Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav as well as representatives of the AIADMK, Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).
Although there was no formal talk of a Third Front to take on both the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the 14 parties resolved to preserve communal amity.
The communal riots in Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh in September which left around 50 people dead and rendered 43,000 homeless were the trigger for the meet.
A resolution passed at the convention accused communal forces of "again seeking to ... create communal tensions" ahead of the Lok Sabha election due next year.
"This has resulted in the outbreak of communal incidents in various parts of the country. The riots in Muzaffarnagar are the most glaring example."
A clear hint about a possible Third Front was given by Nitish Kumar, who said that his Janata Dal-United (JD-U) and other parties should ponder how to mobilise "democratic forces" to defeat "communal forces".
"There is no new front here but we will have to think how the democratic forces can be united based on issues," he said.
"One hundred percent unity will not be possible but we must explore whatever is practical and possible," he said, adding that "the people of India are secular".
Mulayam Singh Yadav agreed. "If these 14 parties come together, communal forces cannot succeed," he said, in an obvious reference to the BJP and its affiliates.
Parties broadly clubbed the Third Front contend that neither the BJP nor the Congress may be able to form a government on their own after the Lok Sabha polls in view of the widely expected fractured verdict.
Mulayam Singh said there was a deliberate move to create communal tensions in Uttar Pradesh.
Nitish Kumar echoed him: "There is a clear attempt to disturb communal amity.
"Some people are uncomfortable with our Ganga-Jamuna tehzib... They feel that if there are riots, if there is bloodshed, they will reap the benefits."
CPI-M leader Prakash Karat took a dig at BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and said the BJP's ideological mentor, the RSS, was playing a key role ahead of the Lok Sabha election.
"The RSS is playing a key role in these elections though they said they are a cultural orgnisation. They decided that Modi would be the BJP's prime ministerial nominee," Karat said.
Wednesday's meet is significant in that it brought together a variety of parties including the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha-Prajatantrik (JVM) and Asom Gana Parishad (AGP).
Three of these parties - JD-U, AIADMK and AGP - have been part of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance in 1998-2004.
The NCP, part of the ruling Congress-led United Progressive Alliance, and the SP, which supports it from outside, too were on the dais.
Though playing a crucial role in propping up the UPA, Mulayam Singh has been flexing his muscles in recent times by highlighting the need for a Third Front.
But he feels such a grouping will be ready only after the 2014 polls.
Separately, the AIADMK, BJD and Trinamool Congress have been trying to forge a forum of regional parties to maintain equal distance from both the Congress and the BJP.
The Congress and the BJP downplayed the event.
"There are only two ideologies in the country. One which believes in dividing people, the other which believes in uniting. One which is secular and the other which is communal," said Raj Babbar of Congress.
BJP's Ravi Shankar Prasad was harsh: "A ritual takes place before every Lok Sabha election. This is a quest for an illusory Third Front.
"But the Third Front is history. It has no relevance for the present nor any promise for the future."
--IANS (Posted on 30-10-2013)