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Will pre-poll friendships survive outcome?

india Updated: Apr 02, 2009 00:54 IST
Vinod Sharma
Vinod Sharma
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Political alignments ahead of Lok Sabha polls are changing at the twirl of the kaleidoscope. Will the view remain the same after elections?

The third formation’s pitch for power comes out a trifle unrealistic in the absence of a party among them capable of winning 50 seats on its own. The BSP’s Mayawati may have a surprise in store but questions persist if she and AIADMK’s Jayalalithaa can pull together.

Initial reports from Kerala and West Bengal are not very encouraging for the CPM-led Left Front whose collective tally is unlikely to be anywhere near the 60-odd they had in the outgoing House. If projections come true, the alliance they are putting together of regional satraps may not amount to much.

A 150-plus score by either of the two biggies — Congress and BJP — would alter the situation radically. “You cannot think of a viable Front without a strong core, a centre of gravity that’ll keep satellites in orbit,” remarked a Union Minister from Andhra Pradesh.

It was this factor that distinguished the BJP-led NDA and Congress-led UPA from other short-lived attempts at multi-party governance. At their core were 100-plus entities unlike the 1996-1998 United Front cobbled around the rickety, 46-member Janata Dal.

Left parties that backed the UF from outside might consider joining the government this time to give the Third Front a stabilising core.

Even then, does the formation have candidates befitting finance and external affairs portfolios? Left nominees in these slots would be unacceptable in the ‘horses for courses’ conditionality.

Equally bleak could be the possibility of the SP-RJD-Lok Janshakti pressure group joining the third lineup. Any such action will be unsettling for the BSP, which may even bolt.

In 1996, Mulayam Singh kept Mayawati out of the UF with CPM’s support. The shoe is on the other foot now. The BSP leader can block a post-poll pact with the SP chief.

Then there is their biggest problem. Most of them want to not only win elections but also ensure the defeat of select adversaries, which is at the root of the all-pervasive confusion. In UP, the SP wants the BSP marginalised and the Congress decimated. Ditto for the RJD-LJP combine in Bihar vis-à-vis the JD(U) and Congress.

The picture would change completely if the BJP gets into the driver’s seat. In the emerging fronts, only the Left, RJD and to some extent SP are avowedly anti-saffron. The remaining slept with the “communal enemy” in the past.

“That wouldn’t happen,” boasted a Congress member of Rajya Sabha, adding, “Ours will be the party at the head of the next coalition.” Such projections are inspired by the goodwill Sonia Gandhi retains among allies who walked out on the Congress: the PMK, RJD and Lok Janshakti.

“They criticised her advisors but praised her while leaving. She’s the fevicol who’ll bind them back into our fold.”Yes perhaps, but post-electoral nuptials come with huge dowry bills.