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Now, a Fourth Front may emerge

The next government could be that of the Fourth Front i.e. parties within these three (UPA, NDA and Third Front) formations may come together in some sort of an arrangement and stake a claim to form the next government, writes Pankaj Vohra.

columns Updated: Apr 26, 2009 18:35 IST
Pankaj Vohra

The launch of the Third Front comprising nearly a dozen political parties from six states has put a question mark on the composition of the Union Government after the outcome of the Parliamentary elections on May 16. Most of the political developments during the past fortnight, including the parting of ways between the BJP-BJD and falling out between the Trinamool Congress and NDA have pushed things further towards the unknown.

Media reports have recently suggested that the Third Front could hold the key to what is to follow. As things stand, it appears that neither the UPA nor NDA in their present form or the Third front are in any position to form the government. In fact, the next government could be that of the Fourth Front i.e. parties within these three formations may come together in some sort of an arrangement and stake a claim to form the next government. In other words, the Fourth Front will have some of each of the three formations partly or wholly. Therefore, to conclude that Manmohan Singh, L.K.Advani or Mayawati will be Prime Minister is premature at this juncture. There is every possibility that none of the three will be there. Instead, somebody like Sharad Pawar, Nitish Kumar, Chandrababu Naidu or Naveen Patnaik may emerge from the wings and occupy the centre-stage. This is the beauty of politics — no one can take things for granted and the scenario can change very fast.

The Congress, which is leading the UPA government, appears to be working on two or three plans. Plan ‘A’ is very obvious — to emerge as the single largest party perhaps with an enhanced strength as compared to its present position. This would enable it to play a key role in how things unfold subsequently. Plan ‘B’ closely linked to Plan ‘A’ would be to explore the possibility of forming a government with someone like Dr Manmohan Singh at the helm.

If this plan fails to work, then it may opt for Plan ‘C’ which is to sit in the Opposition with Rahul Gandhi as a possible leader of the Opposition. Young Rahul may gain added experience in Opposition and the Congress can project itself as not too eager to come to power but content to play the role assigned to it by the people. The calculation may be based on the assumption that whichever government comes to power at the centre, without the single largest party, may not last too long. Polls may have to be held within a year or two.

But things could change depending on how the field is in the post-poll scenario. There are many in the Congress who have unfulfilled political ambitions. They play according to individual plans and not on what the party wants. There are others in the party who feel threatened by the emergence of Rahul Gandhi and may try to keep him at bay so that they continue to call the shots.

Within the NDA, things do not appear stable any longer. Advani is having a tough time keeping his own flock together. The public display of differences between his man Friday, Arun Jaitley and party president Rajnath Singh has not done the saffron party any good. There are chances of a revolt from within because of which names of candidates in many states have been put on hold. Senior party leaders feel that if the names are out, sections within the party may oppose those candidacies publicly. This is something, which was unheard of in the Sangh Parivar. This is happening because the RSS leadership has been extremely weak and has allowed things to drift. There is no connect or hold the RSS has over the BJP and its cadres. And things are getting worse with each passing day.

The Third Front has its share of problems since Mayawati is not going to accept anyone else for the top post if she gets past the 50 mark. There are bound to be compatibility problems among some of the Third Front constituents. But as D. Raja, CPI leader put it, everything will depend on the numbers. The Third Front’s dreams of success largely depend on the assumption that both the BJP and the Congress together will not cross the 250 mark. As things stand, this is a likely scenario. Even if the Congress, by virtue of having a larger presence, is able to retain its present numbers, the BJP may dip in a sensational manner.

This is where the possibility of the Fourth Front government comes into play. In politics, power papers over all kinds of contradictions as it did during the NDA regime. Things could drastically change once the BJP shelves its claim for the Prime Ministership and allows someone like Nitish Kumar to emerge from the shadows. In this politics of the unknown, things are pointing towards the Fourth Front. Between us.