Notes on a ‘third front’
Howsoever the non-Congress, non-BJP leader may strive, chances of the formation of the Third Front appear remote before the general elections and that too in a situation where both the Congress and the BJP find it difficult to form the government. Even if the Third Front takes places, it would be plagued by inherent contradictions. Depending on the results, many of the parties now talking of a Third Front, might actually decide to back either the Congress or the BJP, as they have done in the past. The Congress and the BJP would have to do very badly if the nebulous third front is to lead the next government at the Centre.
Asked about the proposed Third Front, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa dismissed the question as being pointless before the election results were out. Her supporters, on the other hand, are enthused, saying if she gets 25 seats in Tamil Nadu, she herself could be the next prime minister. This is not for the first time that she supported the idea of Third Front. In 2009, also she had supported attempts to put together such a formation. However, such a front could not come about at that time. Let us see if the efforts of non-Congress, non-BJP parties succeed, this time.
It is now apparent that she will not have any truck with either the Congress or the BJP before the election and this has greatly disappointed the saffron party, particularly its Prime Ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi who has been claiming that the Tamil Chief Minister Jayalalithaa is her close friend. The Third Front in its present form is a collection of regional parties with the backing of Left parties – the Communist Party of India and the Communist Party of India (Marxist). In any case a pre-poll alliance is immaterial as the parties have different areas of influence.
While the Left parties would surely like an alternative to both the Congress and the BJP to emerge, many of the regional leaders, talking of a Third Front, such as Mulayam Singh Yadav of Samajwadi party and Sharad Yadav of the Janata Dal (United), are merely thinking up a way to make their parties more relevant in Lok Sabha election. It is not, therefore, surprising that the AIADMK wants its leader Jayalalithaa to be the prime minister (if the third front is able to form the government) and Mulayam Singh sees a similar role for himself.
Nitish Kumar too will like to be in the race now that he has cut off relations with the BJP. Jayalalithaa’s advantage is that the numbers are likely to favour her this time because she has accommodated the Left parties. She may concede a couple of seats in her state each to CPI and Marxists. What she, however, gains is the support of entire bag of the seats that the two Left parties may get in coming Lok Sabha election. Presuming she secures 25 seats and the Left parties get 30, she would be able to form a formidable bloc in the Third Front and may easily lay claim over the prime minister’s office.
There are several factors, which would determine, whether the potential of a Third Front government would be realised after the election. The most important among them is whether the third front would get enough Lok Sabha seats to be viable. These parties, comprising third front, have to maximise their win in areas where the party is not present or virtually non-existent or has won no seat in the past – and in the states where there will be multi-cornered contests. The third front parties have to win nearly half of 370 constituencies in these areas of the BJP and in multi-cornered contests.
That number might be brought down substantially because of the internal contradictions among the regional parties – those who cannot get together include Trinamool Congress and the Left parties, the AIADMK and DMK, and the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Janata Dal (United). Mulayam Singh and Mayawati hate each other.
The Congress itself is fast losing support, particularly in North India and, one wonders, if it would cross 100 mark. If Sonia Gandhi’s party fails to do that, then there is possibility that it may support a Third Front government from outside. Indeed it is a tough battle ahead for the Third Front, if it is formed after the election.
Both the Congress and the BJP rubbished the idea of the Third Front. Narendra Modi attacked the grouping, saying it would make India a ‘third rate’ country. ‘Time has come to bid farewell to the idea of Third Front from Indian politics for ever’. Congress leader, Ghulam Nabi Azad, felt in a democracy every political party has the right to form a group and individuals can join any other party of their liking. He, however, declined to say anything about the Third Front. The CPI leader, Gurudas Dasgupta, called Modi a ‘cheap politician who uses cheap words. His comments on Third Front show his arrogance’.IPA