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Is Third Front on?

The debate post split, Sunday, rapidly veered away to the possibilities of Nitish Kumar's next move, and whether the Third Front or the Federal Front hypotheosis was workable at all. Mammen Matthew reports.

patna Updated: Jun 16, 2013 17:32 IST
Mammen Matthew

The debate post split, Sunday, rapidly veered away to the possibilities of Nitish Kumar's next move, and whether the Third Front or the Federal Front hypotheosis was workable at all.

Mamata Banerjee had mooted the idea first inviting over Nitish Kumar, Biju Janata Dal chief Naveen Patnaik in Odisha, which has seen efforts by TDP chief, Chandrababu Naidu and even UP chief minister, Akhilesh Singh expressing an 'aye'.

The problem with this disparate group starts with the ego's of personalities involved besides the divergent political views and stands on everything national. The Left cannot have any truck with it, neither Lalu Prasad's RJD-which in itself comes as a dampener.

However, with the poll surveys by various netwroks, basing itself on the seats these parties already have and the probabilities going into 2014, suggest that a Third Front, seated together, could gain as many seats as the Congress or the BJP individually, thus making for a hung parliament. That would require support of one or the other mainline party to boost a Third Front Government, which has any hope of survival.

In Patna, Nitish's possible gamble of going his own way and hoping to garner as many seats to pitch for leadership of such a Third Front was also a point of debate.

Would he try to get back, if he has the votes and seats and should Narendra Modi led BJP fail to secure enough numbers for Kumar to pitch back for PMship of a fresh NDA group?

That looked remote.

But with not many a reason to suggest, that the Congress would throw out loyal Lalu Prasad in the cold and invite Kumar over, especially post Maharajganj, meant, that the very need for Nitish to be part of a nationally winnable coalition becomes important.

The split in the NDA means, that the BJP in itself would have enough traction to woo the upper caste votes-which stands with it like a phalanx. But it is debatable, whether an upper caste grouping in Bihar, where subnationality is not an issue, would force other castes, irrespective of political leanings to join such a force-Narendra modi or not.

That is less likely and Bihar's political experience , going back, remains, that the OBC's, EBC's and not so political groups would go their separate ways.

As of now, the powerful Bhumihar group, trading communities and Kayasthas are largely and overwhelmingly with the BJP, but Yadavs and Muslims (just to go by Maharajganj results) seem to be realigning towards the RJD with the Rajputs. That is a damning result for the JD-U, though maharajganj could be seen as a single spark, which may not run the full political course all over in Bihar, come 2014 or 2015, when the assembly polls would be on.

Should the Congress not align with the JD-U despite the fact, that it would tip the scales against Lalu's RJD garnering Muslim votes, Kumar would have a fight on his hands.

But then, with the JD-U inside feeling being that a Third Front idea is workable and an option, as Nitish Kumar has himself agreed, JD-U also has the time to bounce back over the next one year and consolidate the backward, Muslim votes to show for a big comeback.

This is one reason, why the BJP seemed desperate to save the alliance, for the vote shearing by RJD-Congress, JD-U and BJP fighting separately is not lost on anyone. The seats would be so less, that both pro-UPA, pro-BJP coalitions could lose the last post race to be in PM's seat.

As of now, Kumar's belief in a backward states coalition to demand their rights, looked like a strong possibility on Sunday after spokesman, Shivanand Tiwary stated, that "Such a move is definitely on'.