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Two queens lead Front race for future PM

Two queens, one from the north and the other from the south, both of unpredictable temperament, are leading the race for prime ministership in the fledgling Third Front, report Nagendar Sharma and MR Venkatesh. India Yatra

india Updated: Mar 18, 2009 19:02 IST

TWO QUEENS, one from the north and the other from the south, both of unpredictable temperament, are leading the race for prime ministership in the fledgling Third Front.

One of them, BSP chief Mayawati, made her intentions clear on Sunday. A day later, the other, AIADMK chief J. Jayalalithaa, broke her silence at a press conference, asking aspirants to wait till election results are announced.

After having snubbed Mayawati on Sunday by not sending a representative to the dinner for Third Front leaders hosted by her in Delhi, Jayalalithaa on Monday attributed her party’s absence from it to a “communication gap”.

Jayalalithaa evaded a direct reply on whether she was also an aspirant for the prime minister’s post. “No comments,” she said. “Anyway, thanks for the compliment.”

Asked about the prime ministerial aspirations of leaders such as Mayawati and NCP chief Sharad Pawar, she said, “There is nothing wrong in expressing one’s desire but as to when the future PM will be selected, and how this choice will take place, all that has to wait until the polls are over.”

Why the two women have an edge over other leaders is clear.

Uttar Pradesh sends 80 MPs, the most among all states, to the Lok Sabha.

If Mayawati can win half the seats there — which she has a fair chance of doing — she can single-handedly increase the Third Front’s seat tally like no other leader among them can.

The AIADMK’s bastions — Tamil Nadu and Puducherry — add up to only 40 seats. Plus, they have a history of extreme voting swings. If the AIADMK does well, Jayalalithaa’s contribution to the Third Front’s tally will also be substantial.

In Delhi, Third Front leaders spent the day analysing their discussion with the host. “Nobody contradicted Mayawati,” said a Third Front leader.

Mayawati discussed the post-poll scenario. She had left no scope for any pre-poll alliance anyway by fielding candidates in several seats where other constituents of the Third Front have also put up nominees.

The issue of the prime ministership was discussed. The overarching view was that it should go to the leader of whichever party among them brought the largest number of MPs to the next Lok Sabha. The Left leaders wanted MPs from all their four parties — the CPI, CPM, RSP and Forward Bloc — to be regarded as a single unit while choosing the PM. But Mayawati wanted each party to be considered separately.

Some leaders were miffed by the way Mayawati hogged the limelight prior to the dinner, before the media waiting outside her house. She read out a statement and walked away, indicating the media interaction was over, not giving the other leaders any chance to put forth their views.