The strongholds of the mythical third front proved the easiest to win for the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) in the elections.
In comparison, the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) gave the UPA a tougher fight on its turf. When it got down to choosing between a real option and a motley combination that could pull apart any time, the voters didn’t really have a difficult decision to make.
“Each state has its own reasons. But yes, stable fronts are preferable to motley combinations,” sociologist Dipankar Gupta said.
The third front was believed to be strong in four states — West Bengal and Kerala, known bastions of the Left; Andhra Pradesh, with its Telugu Desam Party-Telangana Rashtra Samithi-Left combination; and Tamil Nadu with the AIADMK, PMK, MDMK and Left taking on the DMK-Congress. The TRS later joined the NDA before the results were out.
The seat tallies in these states: in West Bengal, UPA bagged 25 (44.5 per cent votes) and third front 15 (43 per cent), in Kerala, 16 (45 per cent) and 4 (38 per cent), respectively; in Tamil Nadu, 27 (40 per cent) and 12 (33 per cent); and in Andhra, 30 (39 per cent) and 7 (34 per cent). The consolidated results: 98 for the UPA and 38 for the front. The vote percentages were 42 and 37 per cent, respectively.
In contrast, in 14 states where the NDA was strong and in a direct fight with the UPA, it got 152 seats against the UPA’s 135. However, in terms of vote share, the UPA (37 per cent) beat the NDA by one percentage point.
The front performed dismally despite the UPA allies facing serious problems, like the Sri Lankan Tamil crisis in Tamil Nadu and the Satyam scam in Andhra.
In Bengal, though, there was a strong mood against the Left government over the killings in Nandigram over land acquisition. In Kerala too, the ruling Left suffered due to the rift between its senior leaders and the CPI-M’s alliance with one-time terror accused Abdul Naseer Madhani.