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‘Third front’ fails to take off in Rajasthan; it’s still Congress vs BJP

Rajasthan assembly election 2018: Though a grouping of seven political parties was formed in October to provide a ‘third front’ to voters in Rajasthan, but the question remains whether this ‘third’ alternative of mostly regional parties has enough support base to take on the two principal, national parties -Congress and BJP -in Rajasthan.

rajasthan elections Updated: Nov 28, 2018 15:00 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Jaipur
Rajasthan Election 2018,Rajasthan Election 2018 News,Rajasthan Constituency
(Independent MLA and Jat leader Hanuman Beniwal (second from L) with MLA Ganshyam Tiwari (second from R) at a rally.(Prabhakar Sharma / HT Photo )

For the December 7 assembly election in Rajasthan, several political parties have fielded candidates with claims to provide the electorate of the state, which has been governed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress by turns since 1993, an “alternative”, or what their leaders like to call it, the ‘third front’.

Among those that have called for a front to be formed include the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the Bharat Vahini Party (BVP), the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP).

Besides them, a grouping of seven political parties was formed in October under the banner of Rajasthan Loktantrik Morcha (RLM) by former prime minister HD Deve Gowda, comprising his Janata Dal (Secular), the Communist Party of India (CPI), the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the Communist Party of India (Marxist Leninist), the Marxist Communist Party of India (United), the Rashtriya Lok Dal, and the Samajwadi Party.

The RLM had announced then it would field candidates on all the 200 assembly seats, although the front has not officially disclosed how many seats it is contesting. “The scrutiny (by the election commission of the nominations that have been filed) is on,” CPI spokesperson Ravindra Shukla said, adding that the alliance would make public the details about contesting candidates after Thursday, the last day for the withdrawal of nominations.

Former BJP leader and MLA Ghanshyam Tiwari, who launched his own Bharat Vahini Party this year, had said at the time of the launch that the people are “fed up with the Congress and the BJP, and need alternatives”.

Independent MLA and Jat leader Hanuman Beniwal, who formed the RLP this month, said his party would “work for a third front government in Rajasthan as an alternative to the BJP and the Congress”.

But the question remains whether this ‘third’ alternative of mostly regional parties has enough support base to take on the two principal, national parties in Rajasthan.

Political experts from the state, while acknowledging that these “other” parties would “certainly take away a few votes”, the fact remains that the regional leaders looking to establish a base in Rajasthan will have to wait a bit longer to pose any threat to the BJP and the Congress.

“People of Rajasthan believe in institution. Whosoever rules in Delhi, running the country, people of the state like to stay connected with such institutions. The third front does not come in this category of institution,” political analyst Narayan Bareth said.

Click here for complete coverage of Rajasthan Assembly Election 2018

Rajeev Gupta, a sociologist and a political analyst, admitted that there are several regions where “these parties enjoy an influence”.

“In certain areas, some parties are strong due to their active participation in agitation, while in a few others, some are strong due to their caste equation/social engineering. There are also some areas where a few politicians are popular and exercise an influence owing to their leadership. These factors will certainly play a role (in the election) with possible chances that these parties could manage to secure 15-20 seats (in the 200-member assembly),” Gupta said.

Among those looking to dent the BJP and the Congress’s chances include sitting MLAs Ghanshyam Tiwari (Sanganer constituency), Geeta Verma (Sikrai) and Kisna Ram Nai (Sridungargarh), all of whom had won in 2013 on a BJP ticket but are now part of the BVP. Similarly, former BJP MLA Kamal Koli from Hindaun is contesting from the same constituency for the BVP, which has fielded candidates on 75 seats.

Former Congress MLA from Kotputli Ram Swaroop Kasana, former Congress MLA from Neem Ka Thana Ramesh Chand Khandelwal, former minister in the Bhairon Singh Shekhawat government Shashi Datta, former Congress MLA from Masuda Kayyum Khan, former Congress leader Spardha Choudhary, who was vying for a ticket from Phulera constituency, have all joined the RLP and are contesting, along with 62 others, the election next month.

The AAP had in July come up with two separate lists with state party in-charge Deepak Bajpai saying then that the people want “a strong alternative to the BJP and the Congress, and the AAP will prove to be that alternative”. The party is contesting on 187 seats.

The lone MLA of National People’s Party Navin Pilania joined the BSP on November 13, making appeals to the new parties to make the third front stronger. The BSP has fielded candidates on 197 seats.

First Published: Nov 28, 2018 14:59 IST