Third Front Emergence Rattles Congress and BJP

The likely emergence of a Third Front in India's political spectrum in the run-up to the General Elections 2009 commencing next month has severely rattled the two major political parties, namely the Congress Party presently in power, and the BJP hoping to wrest political power from the ruling party. Exploratory moves in this direction were initiated at a recent meeting last week at Bangalore of the leaders of the non-Congress Party and non-BJP alliance partners. Such is the fluid nature of India's electoral politics that even such an exploratory move created nervousness in the Congress Party and the BJP.

Spokespersons of both the Congress Party and the BJP reacted to this development in brash dismissive tones but their political bravado could not camouflage their underlying nervousness. India's two major political parties dismissed the prospects of the Third Front solidifying into a cohesive political whole and offering a credible political alternative in the coming General Elections. They seemed to be basing their political dismissiveness of the Third Front by drawing lessons from the past of such political initiatives.

Admittedly, the Third Front in a short time that is left for the General Elections is unlikely to emerge as a credible political alternative for the Indian voters but a Third Front even as a loose political coalition with some amount of seat adjustments amongst themselves can eat into the traditional vote- banks of both the Congress Party and the BJP. Such a nibbling into the vote-banks of the two major political parties could appreciably alter the slender political margins that are likely to result in the coming General Elections for both the Congress Party and the BJP.

Such prospects create serious political concern to both the Congress Party and the BJP because post-General Elections with the eventuality of reduced number of seats falling in their kitty, their political bargaining power to cobble political coalitions to bid for forming the government becomes that much less in relation to their erstwhile political partners.

The Third Front assumes greater political significance in a post-General Election scenario than in the run-up to the General Elections. This significance would apply both for the Third Front as a whole and for individual constituents in relation to their respective political wins in terms of the number of seat won.

For the first time in India's political history chances exist that the combined number of seats won by the Third Front may be closely approximate to either of the two major political parties. In such a scenario, if it materializes, then it would be not the Congress Party or the BJP seeking and inducing political partners from the Third Front but the Third Front having good chances to seek political support from either the Congress Party or the BJP to form a government.

However, the Third Front even in a loose coalition has its own divisive political dynamics in the sense that there are too many contenders in the ranks of their political leaders aspiring to become Prime Minister.

The Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati whose likelihood of becoming India's first Dalit woman Prime Minister was touched upon in an earlier Column has declared that the Third Front should declare its Prime Ministerial candidate before the General Elections. In view of other Prime Ministerial candidates the Third Front leaders may opt to keep this issue pending till such time the election results are out and the comparative political strengths of each party become more evident.

Also noted in an earlier Column by me was the fact that General Elections 2009 would be a political colorless election with no serious issues which can fire the electorate's imagination. Nor is there any evidence of any political wave in favor of either the Congress Party or the BJP. This situation is likely to persist.

In terms of political excitement India would have to wait for May 16 2009 when the General Election results would be announced and the fragmented electoral verdict that is likely to accrue would spawn the unholy political horse-trading that has become the hallmark of the Indian political system in recent times.


More by :  Dr. Subhash Kapila

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