The Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) of Om Prakash Chautala rejoined the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) on Sunday and will contest the Lok Sabha elections in Haryana together with the saffron party.
The two sides haven’t decided the seats they’ll contest in Haryana, which leaves open the possibility of a tie-up with Bhajan Lal’s Haryana Janhit Party for a grand anti-Congress alliance. Former chief minister Bhajan Lal recently broke from the Congress to form his party.
The INLD’s return to the NDA fold after four years was announced at joint press conference by BJP’s prime ministerial candidate L.K. Advani, party chief Rajnath Singh and Chautala here on Sunday.
The move, however, signals yet another premature demise of the “third front” experiment. When the trust vote was called, speculation was rife that a third front comprising the Left parties, INLD, Telugu Desam Party, Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) and Asom Gana Parishad, with the Bahujan Samaj Party’s Mayawati as a possible charismatic face to lead it, was in the works.
The fact that the idea couldn’t take off even before the polls were called indicates Indian politics remains essentially bipolar and to carve an ideologically disparate third force from among the fence-sitters is a difficult ask.
The warning signs have been there. The first was Mayawati’s cold shoulder to a desperate RLD in Uttar Pradesh. She said her party would contest the Lok Sabha polls in Uttar Pradesh on its own. RLD leader Ajit Singh is now in alliance talks with the BJP to try and prevent being decimated in the general elections. Other parties, too, would soon have to choose sides — Congress-led grouping or the BJP camp.
The tie-up with Chautala hasn’t been smooth for the BJP. A section of the Haryana unit among them Member of Parliament from Sonepat Kishan Singh Sangwan, a former INLD man, was against it. And there are some who believe that an alliance with Bhajan Lal, a Bishnoi leader, would have been better. Many, however, see a BJP- INLD-Janhit Party alliance as the best bet.