The Third Front is not yet ready to call itself Third Front, or anything else. And Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati is not yet ready to join them, formally. Not yet, at least. The multi-party front is work-in-progress.
Mayawati’s announcement first. “The BSP will fight the elections on its own. We are fully prepared and we will not align with any other political party,” she told reporters at a news conference on her mentor Kanshi Ram’s birth anniversary.
However, she dropped hints that she saw the fledgling Front in a friendly manner, and could join it if the post-poll scenario threw up favourable conditions: meaning, if it could help her fulfil her Prime Ministerial ambitions.
A few hours later, front constituents decided to not give themselves a name yet. “We are not calling ourselves Third Front yet. We are still in the process of shaping up our coalition,” said Abani Roy of the Revolutionary Socialist Party.
Towards the close of a day of fast paced political developments, Mayawati was clearly seen as having positioned herself as the leader of the fledging front, without joining it formally or informally.
Emerging out of her residence after a dinner meeting hosted by her for front leaders, the BSP chief said she would strive to put together a non-Congress and non-BJP alternative after the elections.
Flanked by Front leaders, Mayawati said her party would be working towards installing a “completely secular and strong alternative” at the center.
With the exception of the AIADMK representative, all leaders of the Left and Front showed up for the dinner meeting. These included the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) leader Jay Panda, who was standing in for Naveen Patnaik.
Front leaders posed for a bank of photographers and TV camera waiting patiently for them to finish their meal. There was just a photo-op, and a brief statement by Mayawati. They didn’t take questions.
Earlier in the day, the nine parties, which constitute the front, met at CPI(M) headquarters to discuss strategy after their show of strength in Dobbespet last week.
At the end of meeting, they issued a joint appeal resolving to “defeat the Congress and BJP. We shall work to form an alternative government. We appeal to all secular parties to support this endeavor.”
After the meeting, BJD leader BJ Panda said: “My party has formally decided to join this non-Congress and non-BJP platform. We have formally agreed on sharing seats in Orissa with the Left.”