An anti-Carter drive was begun here Wednesday night by some Massachusetts labor leaders and progressive Democrats who want Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) to challenge President Carter in the state's presidential primary.

Kennedy's state is the 17th in which efforts are underway to prevent Carter's renomination. Although the senator has said he intends to support Carter's re-election bid, he has failed to prevent efforts to promote his candidacy nationwide.

Formation of the Massachusetts Committee for a Democratic Alternative in 1980 came as no surprise in this state, where Carter ran fourth in the 1976 primary.

"Carter could be defeated in Massachusetts today on what he hasn't done - it could happen all by itself," said state Sen. Sharon M. Pollard, one of the group's leaders.

That sentiment and polls showing Kennedy with a substantial lead over the president here prompted an effort by Carter's forces to move Massachusetts' primary back from March 4.

Unlike other states where anti-Carter movements will focus on a write-in campaign, the Massachusetts group will try to elect uncommitted delegates who could opt for another candidate if Kennedy decides not to run.

"Our prime uncommitted candidate is Kennedy because he hasn't given his final no yet," said Paul Eustace, vice president of a local of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers and another leader of the anti-Carter group.

"But if the race comes down to [California Gov. Edmund G. (Jerry)] Brown against Carter, I'd hold my nose and vote for Carter," he said.