As per the enigmatic leader Naveen Pattnaik , CM , Odisha is very uncomfortable with Modi as a prime ministerial candidate . In a earlier interview , he categorically stated that his party is equidistant from both the BJP and the Congress. “The third front will be a healthy alternative in Indian politics. It is early days and I do not want to speculate,” he said .
Modi’s growing clout in the BJP might just do what many political efforts over the years have not. Resurrect a Third Front. Can there be a change in the 15 Lok Sabha itself through a re-alignment of political forces? The numbers don't suggest that: the UPA currently has 267 MPs supporting it from inside, and another 48 from outside, totalling 315. The 48 MPs include the Samajwadi Party's 22 MPs, the Bahujan Samaj Party's 21 MPs and the one member Sikkim Democratic Front. The SP, though victorious in U.P. and currently on a strong wicket, is not going to back a BJP-led government, as it would damage its credentials with the Muslims who have brought it to power. The NDA currently has 149 MPs, and even if all the unattached parties (minus the Left parties, which would never back the BJP) were to back it, it would add up to just 203, 69 short of the halfway mark, 272.
Meanwhile, the SP's Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav emphasised that while he welcomed a debate on the possibility of a non-Congress, non-BJP third front, he did not anticipate the possibility of one. Instead, he stressed: “My priority is to set U.P. on the road to prosperity.”
As for the Biju Janata Dal, whose leader and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, has, of late, tried to unite non-Congress Chief Ministers on federal issues, its leader B. Mahtab said that the party was keen to form a “federal front” of like-minded parties.
“We are not for a Third Front or Fourth Front. We are for a federal front,” he said, adding that “a federal front recognises the view of every State and State leadership. Any party which supports the federal character of the country will be part of the front.”
But BJD sources said that while the party would like to assert the rights of the States, it knew that no coalition government at the Centre would be possible for the foreseeable future without either the Congress or BJP in it.
Many have different views. When asked to Sitaram Yechury CPI (M) that there is a periodic talk of third front, but Advaniji recently said that no government can be formed without BJP or Congress. He categorically stated that a third front for name’s sake is not good.
Repeated failures to resurrect the defunct Third Front have made leaders of these parties cautious. Instead they say they are getting together to fight communalism. The protagonists of the Third Front were together when the United Front ruled India for almost two years between 1996 and 1998. They are hoping that India elects a hung parliament next year, following which they would have a chance to get together and form the next government with outside support of the Congress party.
While the Left Front sustained the Congress party-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in its first tenure before withdrawing support due to differences over Indo-US civil nuclear deal, the Samajwadi Party has been sustaining the UPA-II with its outside support after it was reduced to the minority earlier this year after Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam pulled out of UPA.
They are confident that the Congress party would extend support to their effort to form the next government to keep the rival Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) out of power.
They are in touch with the three regional parties of Andhra Pradesh and are convinced that some constituents of the UPA may also join hands with them in case a hung parliament is elected, to ensure they are able to form a non-Congress non-BJP government in the country.
Is a Non-BJP, Non-Congress government actually possible? It sounds more like an impractical thing. If we see, the current Loksabha seats or even somewhat predict for the next general election, it is impossible to have a third front government- without Congress or BJP. For this to work out there will have to be a drastic decline in the number of seats, which seems a very, very unlikely possibility.
This is what L.K. Advani said in his very controversial statement which did a lot of run around in the media for many days. According to him ( in his words) , “My own view is: (i) the shape which national polity has acquired in the past two-and-a-half decades makes it practically impossible for any government to be formed in New Delhi which does not have the support either of the Congress or of the BJP. A Third Front Government, therefore, can be ruled out; (ii) A non-Congress, non-BJP Prime Minister heading a government supported by one of these two principal parties is however feasible. This has happened in the past also. But, as the Prime Ministership of Chaudhury Charan Singh, Chandra Shekharji, Deve Gowdaji and Inder Kumarji Gujral (all supported by Congress), as also of Vishwanath Pratap Singhji (supported by BJP), have shown, such governments have never lasted long.”
So, as Mr. Advani, pointed out foremost, that a government cannot be formed, under any circumstances, without the support of either Congress or BJP. So, that situation is out of the question. However, he does say in his second point that, a Minority Party Leader, someone like Mulayam Singh or any other Third Front Leader, may get benefitted from a minority government supported by either Congress or BJP.
Even, if we examine carefully, the actions of Mulayam Singh, It won’t be a top race for him. First of all, the supporters he relies on are themselves having a very tough time. And, have almost lost credibility. The only chance that Mulayam Singh could go to top is by the support of Congress. But the question arises, why would Congress do that?
So, as pointed already above, the dream of Third Front Government is in reality, not possible as Math won’t work out, in favor of Mulayam Singh Yadav or any Third Front Government (Congress and BJP together hold 320 seats in Loksabha, to have such a fall is rather an unlikely circumstance)
Also, if we talk about Mulayam Singh Yadav specifically, he has been the center of many controversies already, his soar relations with Mayavati are no new news Thus, losing the support of a major party. Also, the assumption that Congress might actually make Mulayak Singh Yadav Prime Minister is rather a false one.
The most unpredictable factor could most likely be the emergence of a third front comprising of political parties that are unwilling to become a part of the two major coalitions, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
Considering the possibilities of them merging together, the first major obstacle is that of rival parties coming together for this common cause. For example, the leftist parties of West Bengal and the opposing Trinamool Congress uniting seems nigh impossible. Similarly, as does the coming together of the Samajwadi party and their fierce rivals, the Bahujan SP of Uttar Pradesh. This is because these parties have always contested fiercely against each other, in both state and central elections and are party to completely different ideologies.This is where the biggest problem of the formation of this front lies.
The fact that there are so many differences between these parties, means that they are being speculated over as members of this elusive alliance. This is also a huge disadvantage owing to the fact that they are initially not as powerful in numbers and hold, relative to the two major coalitions, thus these differences will weaken the fragile possibility. Another obstacle with the parties is that some of them exhibit a cat on the wall with the tendency of swinging in favour of either of the two big coalitions, depending on the time and the situation. Therefore there is no doubt that the UPA and the NDA will try and make use of this demonstration to each of their advantages as much as possible.
There is no denying the fact that some of the possible constituent parties of this possible front boast of names that have been synonymous with the development in their respective states, such as Naveen Patnaik, Chief Minister of Orissa of the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and Nitish Kumar, Chief Minister of Bihar of the Janata Dal United (JDU). Both these individuals’ development models in their respective states have been lauded and have triggered good levels of development. There is also a growing section of the public in India who are not convinced by either the UPA or the NDA and, provided a third front comes into existence, would not mind giving them a chance. This is fairly clear from an opinion poll conducted in July 2013 by Times Now-CVoter which projects a third front gaining 129 seats and other parties (sometimes referred to as a Fourth Front) gaining 122 seats.
This being said, if the third front manages to materialise sans the issues, there is little or no chance of them forming a government on their own. This is a paradoxical situation because they will have to ally with the other coalitions which was what were initially against. However, all is not lost for the elusive third Front, yet. If they are able to earn a fair number of seats, they may be able to dictate terms of the possible alliance and may even succeed to govern the nation.
With less than a year to go before the elections, it is crucial that these parties collectively decide immediately whether or not this third front should emerge.
If we look at the history, there are two instances when India had a non-BJP and non-Congress government. The first one was in 1989 and the second one in 1996. On both occasions, they failed to give stability to the nation and collapsed due to conflict among themselves. An important architect of both these governments was late Harkishan Singh Surjeet who played the role of a consensus builder. The possibility of creation of a third front cannot be completely ruled out. But even if it is formed, there are more reasons that the third front would not be able to run a government than there are for it making one.
To start with, when you have so many parties, consensus building becomes the most difficult task. There would be conflicting ideologies, difference in working style and personality conflicts. Besides, if a third front is formed, it will have at least half a dozen leaders aspiring for the prime ministerial berth. Parties with regional outlooks would not be able to govern and upkeep the diverse Indian population. The foreign relations and the economic growth would be worst hit as all potential members of the so-called third front have conflicting views in these two domains.
As of now, having a third front government is actually more a myth than reality. India’s polity has taken such a shape that having a government without the support of Congress, BJP and BSP is impossible. For now, we could only hope that in some era, we may see a government without having Congress or BJP support in it.
Given the pros and cons, it is in the best interest of the people of India, the Indian democracy and the economy that the idea of third front never becomes a reality. For the time being let it be a distant dream.
SIDDHARTHA SHANKAR MISHRA,