The third front is not a new obsession with Indian politics. It happened just after Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s 13-days old government came down. HD Deve Gowda became then the PM despite his party Janata Dal (Secular) was confined to only Karnataka and had no existence anywhere outside his state.
Keeping BJP and Narendra Modi out of power will be the main objective of the 2024 elections. Many regional parties have shown how they can keep BJP out of power. Meanwhile, Modi’s marketing has gone overboard with the people of India and somehow he failed to convince voters in the recent past.
Delhi, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Kerala, the regional parties have emerged as giant killers. The regional parties have shown that they could stop the massive force of BJP but putting them all on one stage is an enormous task that has lingered unaccomplished. Now Prashant Kishor and Pawar together kick off a ‘third front’-type play with more success than the likes of Chandrababu Naidu managed in the lead-up to the 2019 elections?
Can they address each state’s internal contradictions that would need influence and untiring negotiation? Can Didi, the Left in Kerala, Mayawati and Akhilesh in UP, YSRCP and TDP in Andhra Pradesh conceal their past to march towards the complicated power corridors of Delhi? Most 3rd front leaders are regionally powerful but nationally weak leaders. So basically they may be winning chunks of votes wherever they are, whether West Bengal, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh or Bihar, but outside their boundaries, they are either too weak or completely non-existent.
Prashant Kishor who spoke about ‘quitting this space’ after the assembly elections know more than anyone else the strengths and weaknesses of both sides. Could that mean he is no longer looking at the transformation of regional straps into giant killers in their limited political spaces but pulling out a force that can challenge the colossal Modi enigma? On the other hand, Sharad Pawar could help bring a consensus on a face that could be put opposite Modi in the national arena. There have been numerous efforts made to zero down on one name but all in vain so far.
Moreover, the regional parties have no common ideology to keep them together but a feeling of anti-BJPism and their desire to oust Modi. Their effort at weaving the third front has failed each time because of the myopic view of their own provincial ambitions. This is very obvious that the BJP has become a powerful force; even the most regionally powerful leaders know what threatens their existence. So basically it’s a “Modi Hatao Front”. This front has no agenda, no ideology, and no vision for what to do after elections (just like the front during Deve Gowda’s days), except one, remove Modi at all costs.
The Third Front concept is an election-eve stunt thrown on gullible electorates, to hoodwink the same. Each time, we hear the Third Front and our TV media carry the story to the highest pitch exciting the public to new dizziness. After the elections are over, results declared, the Third Front too vanishes into thin air. Also, TV media forget about the same handily. This is the history of the Third Front right from the time it came into existence.
The decimation can only happen once the players are convinced that there is only one king and it’s better to be a pawn on the winning side rather than being written off a third time over. Sharad Pawar can get the players on the chessboard and PK can determine every move. But to checkmate the ‘king’, you need to have one on your own first. Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar underlined the need for a third front in the country as he welcomed former leader PC Chacko.
Sitaram Yechury (Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader) has also stated the need for it. According to reports, Manoj Jha of Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Sanjay Singh of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Congress Rajya Sabha MP Vivek Tankha are among the invitees. Former BJP leader Yashwant Sinha had joined the Trinamool Congress just before the Bengal election. It’s not clear yet whether a third front will be formed of the like-minded parties or the parties will join hands with the Congress.
The Third Front of 2019 is no different. It will be a hotchpotch of regional parties. The SP, and BSP, are not as powerful now as they were earlier before 2014. RLD had its natural death. INLD is no more power in Haryana. TMC, and BJD, is wilting under pressure from BJP. The Dravidian parties of Tamil Nadu, TRS of Telangana, TDP & YSRCP of Andhra Pradesh, are the only ones who can hold on to their grounds in their states. Hence the Third Front even if it is conceived will be another joke on the people.
The Third Front may have an array of parties that once were great or powerful but now pushed to the brink. RLD, INLD, Jogi’s party, JDS, JMM, Shiv Sena, etc., are certainly not as powerful as the Third Front expects them to be. Only if they align with a national party in their state can they expect to show some teeth. Alone in the Third Front will be a zero. Meanwhile, the oldest national party Congress has already shrunk and is fighting for its existence. All these parties in the Third Front can give some glamour for advertisement and nothing more. Hence the Third Front cannot go beyond publicity stunt.
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