Ruby Arun

Thursday, 12 September 2013

The Real themes of The Third Front or Fourth Front : Self Interest or National Interest?

harad Pawar has an old desire to become the Prime Minister and all the other master charioteers who want to hoist the flag of the Third Front also have similar dreams. On top of that, even all these leaders and parties together cannot get more than 125 or 150 MPs in the Lok Sabha. Apart from this, there seems to be a major shortfall in the kind of solidarity, flexibility, coordination, experience, structure and ideological unity needed for the formation of the Third Front at the national level. 

leadNothing is impossible in politics. The experience of 1975 and 1989 too tells us that the compulsions of politics can make even opposition parties with differing ideologies stand together. But the difficulty is that there are some persons amongst the leaders of the parties that want to maintain an equal distances from the BJP and Congress, between whom there is no similarity of thought or concept. These leaders cannot even tolerate each other. For instance, in Uttar Pradesh, the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Samajwadi Party, both are in search of a Third Front, but Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati cannot stand together at any cost. In Tamil Nadu, M. Karunanidhi is not willing to go along with Jayalalitha. On the other hand, even though the Congress has, in the Rajya Sabha elections, supported the candidate of Karunanidhi’s DMK Party, there seems to be little possibility that equally, in the next Lok Sabha elections, Karunanidhi will give support to the UPA. Similarly, even though Jayalalitha may be a very good friend of Narendra Modi, she cannot be seen standing with the BJP because she has always given statements only in favour of the Third Front.
Recently, Jayalalitha met the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Akhilesh Yadav, and talked of new options, although she will decide on these issues only after the elections. In Bihar, the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the JDU are also going through the same dilemma because these two parties cannot remain together in the same Front. In such a situation it is evident that it will be a four cornered fight in the coming Lok Sabha elections and in the UPA and NDA, there is full scope for variables in both coalitions’ electoral equations. If one glances at the enmity between these leaders, then a Fourth Front taking shape can be seen very easily.
However, we are talking about the formation of the Third Front and its prospects. These days, the fact has come forward from some election surveys that the mood of the people of the country is inclining in favour of regional parties. In this context, in the next Lok Sabha elections, all these various regional parties can come together and emerge as a major force. This is the reason why every party that want to show itself as separate and different from the BJP and the Congress wants to be part of the Third Front. But the irony of the Third Front is that in the last twenty-five years in the politics of India, it has become just a myth. Whenever there is a surge for the constitution of a Third Front, each time in the battle for occupying the chair of power, the Third Front gets disintegrated. In fact, the Third Front has been formed so many times and disintegrated so many times that the people of the country no longer take it seriously. Therefore, when Mulayam Singh Yadav recently began singing once again of the Third Front, his paeans were not taken seriously. Perhaps one reason for this could also be that while on the one hand Mulayam Singh, in struggling to show the separateness from the BJP, talks of the Third Front, on the other hand his brother Ram Gopal Yadav can be seen heaping embroidered praise on Lal Krishna Advani. This is the same Samajwadi Party on whose initiative the United National Progressive Alliance (UNPA) was formed, which included all parties which were not in the NDA or the UPA. But later on, the Samajwadi Party itself separated from the UNPA and gave its support to the UPA.
Judging the delicacy of the moment, while on the one hand Mamata Banerjee released a new political bubble in the air in the name of a federal front, on the other hand the Telugu Desam chief Chandrababu Naidu has also stepped forward. On the other side, in an attempt to show himself before the people of the country as being separate and at a distance from the BJP and the Congress, Naveen Patnaik too is trying to stoke the fire of the Third Front. In this political battle, out of the leaders advocating the Third Front, apart from Naveen Patnaik, the identity of all others has remained non-BJP and non-Congress. But again, the same difficulty will come : Mulayam Singh Yadav cannot be a part of Mamata’s federal front, so in such a situation the question does not arise of the Left parties close to him going along with Mamata.
This is the reason why Mulayam Singh Yadav, who has saved the Congress from many a crisis, is searching for a separate path, and the NCP which has been in step with the Congress on almost every decision is also feeling the need for a Third Front. Agriculture Minister and NCP leader Sharad Pawar has already started implementing his strategy. Much before the Lok Sabha elections are due, Pawar has talked about an alliance with the Biju Janata Dal and the CPI (M). Side by side he is also talking with other parties in the NDA and the UPA. Keeping in view the possible equations after the elections, he has also spoken to Sharad Yadav, but at present the screw that has to turn is getting entrapped at the same spot i.e. , at personal political ambitions. Sharad Pawar has an old desire to become the Prime Minister and all the other master charioteers who want to hoist the flag of the Third Front also have similar dreams. On top of that, even all these leaders and parties together cannot get more than 125 or 150 MPs in the Lok Sabha. Apart from this, there seems to be a major shortfall in the kind of solidarity, flexibility, coordination, experience, structure and ideological unity needed for the formation of the Third Front at the national level. Mamata Banerjee too has not yet made it clear whether her federal front will function in the form of a pressure group or whether it will be function as a non-Congress and non-BJP Front.
The question is whether the federal front will use this as a pretext or an excuse to make a sleight of hand to come to power. In fact, in this virtual famine of issues, it is today a huge issue for political parties to even create a political vortex for the formation of a Third Front. Whether the Front is constituted or not, in a larger context there are many benefits, because at least on this pretext, those leaders
who are on the margins of national politics are brought into the discussion. Though the country at this time has great need of a Third Front, it will be possible only if the Congress and the BJP between them get less than 272 seats in the Lok Sabha. For example, if we glance at the exit polls, according to their calculations the Congress could get 125 and the BJP around 200 seats. If we assume these to be correct, the overall figure works out to around 325. Now, in this situation, can the Third Front come to power and form a Government? Then, to form a Government, the Third Front will have to look for help from the BJP or the Congress. It will be the same thing again. There will be either a Congress led Government or a BJP led Government in the country. In such a situation, the Third Front will be virtually non-existent. This means that once again the Third Front will get it in the face so to say.
Come, for a moment let us assume that the Third Front is formed and in this situation the Congress and the BJP, both together are unable to garner 272 seats. In such a case, the difficulties will grow even more. Then the biggest question would be who will become the Prime Minister, because amongst the leaders who are part of the Third Front almost all will be contenders for the Prime Minister’s post! Let’s say it is decided that the criteria for becoming Prime Minister will be governed by which party is the largest, i.e. , will get the most number of seats– its leader will be the Prime Minister. Then, going by one estimate, let us believe for the present that Uttar Pradesh being the largest State, Mulayam Singh will get the largest number of seats from Uttar Pradesh in the Third Front. In such a situation, will he be made the Prime Minister? But here there will be another particular situation that will be special and that is if the strength of all the parties is almost the same. Then who will hear whom? Will they be able to be of one opinion on any matter? Now if Nitish Kumar is made the Prime Minister, will Mulayam Singh be able to tolerate it? Even if Nitish becomes the Prime Minsiter, then that Government will remain at the mercy of Mulayam Singh. In such a situation, for how long that Government will last, you can make an easy guess. All this means that if a current assessment is made on the basis of the above mentioned schools of thought, a non-BJP or non-Congress power cannot be seen taking shape. But yes, on the lines of Italy, a new political usage could be seen in India too in which in place of the two fronts formed by the NDA and the UPA, four fronts are seen. Of course, for Italy, this political usage has proved to be very lethal. The condition of the largest economy of Europe is today very fragile, but in the context of our own country, it would be good if we hope for better things.
Now let us talk of the role of the Left parties and their viewpoints in the context of the Third Front. In India, the Left parties have always led the Third Front, because by opposing the Hindutva politics of the BJP they had to maintain the ideas and concepts of a secular alliance. This also why the Left parties kept the outline of their economic and other programmes completely separate and different from that of other parties. Rapid changes in the political situation of the country and the efforts of Mamata Banerjee created a churning, a yearning within the Left parties. Anyway, the Left parties in West Bengal still have to fight the battle to maintain their movement, their survival. Therefore, they cannot even think of being a part of any front with Mamata even in a dream. For the sake of maintaining their existence, it is very essential for them to create a non-BJP and non-Congress option, so that their identity, their existence and relevance can continue. This is why while on the one hand CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury met Sharad Yadav on this matter and decided to extend support to the DMK in the Rajya elections in Tamil Nadu, on the other hand he also met General Secretary of the CPI, A.B. Bardhan and held discussions with him on this issue.
According to news that is coming in, the Left leaders have already, under their strategy, started mobilisation. The possibility is also being expressed that the Left and the democratic parties do not form a formal Front, but they find some way through ‘understandings’ of making electoral adjustments. The reason for this is that at this point the Left parties are in a state of anxious flux. Otherwise, when the need for the Third Front is being felt the most, if at that time the ‘tallest’ Left leader in the country, Prakash Karat says that there is no possibility of a formation of a Third Front before the elections, it means that there is no central point at present in the axis of the Left parties. At a time when Mulayam Singh, Nitish Kumar and Naveen Patnaik are talking of Mamata Banerjee, if at that time Prakash Karat starts praising Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s China policies, then it is easy to understand that with the help of the Congress, the Leftists want to uproot and hurl away Mamata Banerjee from West Bengal, so that once again they can sustain their identity and relevance there. Another meaning of this which emerges is that they can also support the Congress.
If we look attentively at all these many conditions and situations, the personal benefits for political parties and the now-made, now-broken equations formed on that basis, only one thing can be understood : that the objective of all the many political parties involved in the hustle tussle of forming a Third Front is certainly not that of forming the Third Front to give the country a new Government which will be truly secular. Rather than giving the country a Government whose objective is to provide a clean, transparent and corruption free rule, to make and maintain such policies through which the ‘aam’ Indian can be get rid of everyday difficulties, and his or her life can become smoother and easier, the Third Front’s purpose is different. In contrast, the purpose and objective of the Third Front is just that all the various political parties should get together and form a Third Front, which can somehow maintain pressure on any Government that is formed at the Centre, through which its valid-not valid political ambitions and desires can be fulfilled.

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