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Lok Sabha elections: Third Front a possibility or an illusion?

By: D P Satish


Last Updated: January 07, 2014, 13:28 IST

Lok Sabha elections: Third Front a possibility or an illusion?

Non-Congress and non-BJP parties are in power in nine states. Together they have more than 221 MPs in the Lok Sabha.

New Delhi: HD Deve Gowda, the former prime minister who headed the United Front government-1 for 11 months in 1996-97 recently remarked: "These media people are behaving like as if there are only two political parties (Congress and BJP) in this country. For them, we the regional parties don't matter. They should realise that neither the Congress, nor the BJP can form a government at the Centre without us. I firmly believe that the Third Front will come to power. Not Congress or BJP."

Gowda is right. Non-Congress and non-BJP parties are in power in nine states. Together they have more than 221 MPs in the Lok Sabha. Andhra Pradesh, till recently a bastion of the Congress is also going the Third Front way with the emergence of the YSR Congress and the TRS.

According to some political analysts, the non-Congress and non-BJP parties (not all are Third Front parties. Some are with the UPA or the NDA) are likely to get more than 250 Lok Sabha seats this time. Even a new kid on the block Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is also a Third Front party. If the Lok Sabha polls throw up a hung Parliament, the AAP will mostly likely side with the Third Front.

The Third Front is a bundle of contradictions and much ridiculed by the media, corporate houses and city people. They call it an opportunistic alliance or a group of highly ambitious leaders, who want to be the prime ministers, even if it's for just a day.

History also proves that the Third Front governments have been a disaster. In the early late 1980s, early 90s, both the VP Singh and the Chandrashekhar governments collapsed within a few months. The Gowda-Gujral governments in 1996-98 also suffered the same fate. Those governments were backed by the Congress and the BJP at different times.

The Left Front has been the leader of the Third Front for a long time. It even got a chance to lead the government at the Centre in 1996. The Left (CPM) declined the offer and later regretted the decision describing it as a 'historic blunder'.

Past events prove that the history is staked against the Third Front. As far as the 2014 Lok Sabha elections are concerned, the Third Front is a non-starter.

Wily old foxes like Deve Gowda, Mulayam Singh Yadav etc are hoping that a Third Front government will come to power at the Centre. Other major players like Mayawati of BSP, Nitish Kumar of JDU, Naveen Patnaik of BJD, Mamata Banerjee of TMC, TDP, Left front, DMK, AIADMK, YSR Congress Party are also hoping that the Third Front would suit their political requirements.

It is a fact that the DMK and the AIADMK, YSRCP and TDP, Left and TMC can't be a part of the same alliance. However, parties which bag more seats will have a better chance of driving a hard bargain.

The Third Front has to fight the media, corporate houses and the city voters. All three have their own reservations about the Third Front. But, some of the Third Front parties have been running highly successful governments in their respective states. For example, Naveen Patnaik-led BJD government has been in power in Orissa for the past 15 years, The DMK and the AIADMK have been ruling Tamil Nadu for the past 46 years, Nitish Kumar's JDU has been in power in Bihar for the past 9 years, SP and BSP have also been ruling UP for almost two decades.

Mamata Banerjee has decimated the Left Front in West Bengal and has been running a highly controversial government.

But, the Third Front may not be able to repeat its success in some states at national level because of the very nature of these parties. Since, most of them (except the Left) are state level parties. Their area of influence is restricted only to their respective states. For their very survival, regional interests are paramount and the national interest won't even figure in their agenda.

The corporate houses are also against the Third Front. They fear parties like the communists and the TMC. They fear that an indecisive government which looks like a circus company will stall the growth and may lead to economic doom.

The highly aspirational urban voters (mainly major cities) also loath Third Front and its leaders. Finally, the national media also dislikes the Third Front. It argues that in the national interest, only a national party or an alliance led by a national party is best suited to govern.

However, if Narendra Modi-led NDA fails to reach 200 mark and the Congress manages to win more than 125 seats, possibility of a Third Front coming to power look brighter. Just to keep the BJP away from power, the Congress might back a Third Front government at the Centre. Even the Third Front is also hoping for the same scenario.

Will the Third Front be a reality once again or is it still a non-starter? Wait for the Lok Sabha election results in May.

first published:January 07, 2014, 13:28 IST
last updated:January 07, 2014, 13:28 IST
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