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HindustanTimes Sat,20 Sep 2014
We must question the viability of Third Front
Hindustan Times
October 30, 2013
First Published: 23:49 IST(30/10/2013)
Last Updated: 23:52 IST(30/10/2013)

It runs on almost predictable lines. As election fever gathers momentum, an attempt to cobble together a Third Front is par for the course. And this time around, efforts got underway towards this end in the Capital where a mega meet was held under the tutelage of the Left parties.

The only turn up for the books was the presence of the Nationalist Congress Party, a part of the UPA coalition. Of course, the explanation given by the NCP is that in the era of coalitions, all options have to be kept open. Indeed the NCP has an alliance with the Left in Kerala.

The subtext, and not a very subtle one at that, of the proposed front is its desire to oppose the rise of Narendra Modi, the BJP's prime ministerial candidate. This explains why the front leaders keep harping on about a secular formation and the dangers of communalism for India.

But, while these are noble sentiments, we must question the viability of the front itself. It is difficult to see what there is in common between say the SP or the JD(U) and the Left parties.

However, both the SP and the JD(U) are strong on their home turfs, while the Left parties are really out in the political wilderness for now.

For any political formation to succeed, it must be held together with an ideological glue. While many may not agree with them, both the Congress and the BJP have such a binding factor in the form of leaders and ideologies.

In the past we have seen how personalities come to dominate any Third Front and each party leader feels that he or she should head the formation. Then there is the question of the numbers.

As things stand now, a Third Front will not get anywhere near the numbers it will need to form a government. This means that it may have to cast its lot in with either of the two big parties, something that is anathema to many potential front leaders.

Of course, the leaders of the BJP and the Congress are not letting any grass grow under their feet when it comes to wooing the powerful regional parties.

These parties are likely to go along with the winning side and with those whose ideologies are more or less acceptable. For example, Nitish Kumar is not likely to have any truck with the BJP.

While it will not work, the idea of a Third Front is an attractive one for our democracy as it would give the voters a greater choice and put many more issues on the table. It is a pity that such a front is doomed to fail even before it takes shape.


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