Sometime back, in one of my editorials, I had written that in the forthcoming Parliamentary elections, the formation of a third front is quite a possibility, given the current state of political affairs in the country. In fact, the very idea of a third front was put forward when the CPI(M) General Secretary, Prakash Karat announced he was working towards it. Though there is no doubt that both the big national parties – Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) – cannot form a government on their own, as it has been quite evident over the past few years, for both these parties have seen a sustained erosion of their national appeal and those are the regional parties which have been eating into their share of the pie! The erosion has been so severe that in some states, some regional parties have literally overgrown to challenge the erstwhile supremacy of the big two.
In fact, of all the regional parties, it is Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) which has done the maximum damage for them. Historically, it has often been observed that the party which rules Uttar Pradesh invariably makes Delhi as their next destination; and Mayawati has been successful in routing both the BJP and the Congress from a state which earlier used to be their bastion. Her party has not only marginalised both the Congress and the BJP in UP, but also has started making inroads into other states of critical importance from the perspective of national elections.
Looking at the way things are shaping up, there are three possible outcomes of the forthcoming Parliamentary elections – first, that of Congress forming a government with outside support from Mayawati and CPI(M); second, being that of BJP forming a government with support from the above two: and third, the third front comes together to form a government of their own. Now, in both the first and second cases, on account of the nuisance value of BSP and CPI(M), both Congress and BJP would abstain from partnering a coalition with them, until and unless there is a dying compulsion. This leaves us with the third option, and that is, Prakash Karat’s third front coming together and forming a government. In fact, the very idea of a third front has already been welcomed by BJP’s former ally, Chandrababu Naidu, who would do anything to make good his loss vis-a-vis the Congress in the last state elections. Moreover, other political parties who are partners in the current UPA coalition, like the NCP and RJD, would not mind joining the third front as well, as there has been a clear conflict of interest in their respective states – Maharashtra and Goa for the former and Bihar and Jharkhand for the latter.
The same holds true for JD(S) in Karnataka as well. But irrespective of such a high probability, the biggest challenge that Prakash Karat would face would be in bringing them all together to form a third front. And an even bigger challenge would be in terms of deciding who would finally lead the front. Looking at the way things are going, Mayawati stands a bigger chance for the same, but this is something that the CPI(M) leadership would not be able to accept. And this is exactly the point on which the very idea of a probable third front would die a premature death.
Now the question is: What is the solution to this impending imbroglio? Though going by convention, it is almost impossible to even imagine that both BJP and Congress can come together and jointly form a government. But then, why not? This is any day a much better alternative than having the aforementioned third front, which would do nothing other than adding nuisance value at the Centre. Moreover, if one closely analyses the NDA and the UPA regimes, it becomes evident that on most policy matters, they have taken an almost identical stance during their respective tenures. Both the parties have been reform oriented with a strong focus on economic growth. Starting from the Golden Quadrilateral to the nuclear deal, both the parties have been maintaining almost a uniform stance. And the economic performance of the country has also seen almost similar trends in their respective tenures. In the given scenario, with so much in common, why can’t the two parties come together to form a government? If they can do so for the larger cause, burying their respective ideological differences, only then can we have a workable coalition, which would then sustain itself for the full five-year tenure. And then who knows, the political chemistry between the two parties could work in such a manner that then why just five years, they could move ahead to more terms.
A few days back, Congress President Sonia Gandhi and BJP leader Lal Krishna Advani were seen sharing a hearty laugh at the Rashtrapati Bhavan – only if they extended the same laughter to the next election and forged a grand alliance!!!
- 02 March 2008 |
- Arindam on Indian Politics