The victory of Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Admi Party has revived the talk of a possible Third Front government at the Centre after the Lok Sabha election this year. Till the Delhi Assembly elections any talk about the ‘Third Front’ was brushed aside as a mirage and wishful thinking of some leaders like Mulayam Singh Yadav. BJP which said,” third front has no relevance” is now the most worried party. If Third Front parties together win around 200 seats as being predicted, they will be in a position of king-maker and the last man they would like to be on the throne is Narendra Modi.
The Congress is also not happy at the prospects of third front parties increasing base. It has called prospects of a Third Front Government as a day dreaming of some state level leaders.. The Communists parties still insist that the third front, if at all possible, can be talked about only after the Lok Sabha elections. However, the Congress is a less worried party. Most of the state parties are ideologically closer to it and an understanding with these parties may not be so difficult. Then stopping Narendra Modi and BJP from power will be a victory for the Congress given the past two years of relentless attacks it has faced from BJP leaders.
It is true that the days of single party rule are over. From 1999 to 2004, the NDA (National Democratic Alliance) was in power with 182 MPs (Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha), Atal Bihari Bajpai as the Prime Minister and serving as the glue for the coalition partners. But in 2004 elections India Shining did not work for BJP and its came down from 182 to 138 and the Congress with 145 MPs in the Lok Sabha, just seven seats more than BJP, formed the Government. In 2009 the Congress further improved securing 206 seats and BJP further going down with 116 seats in the Lok Sabha. But the combined vote shares of both BJP and Congress was less than 50% of the total votes polled. In 2004 it was 47.9 % and which further declined to 47.4 % in 2009. These figures are clear indicative of the declining popularity of both the so called national/main parties and the rise of the state and or regional parties.
The large number of scams, widespread corruption and very high inflation / price rise have eroded the credibility of the politicians. In the absence of any ‘big idea’ in public life or a towering personality to glue around, the already fragmented polity is likely to be further fragmented making it utmost difficult to form a stable Government at the Centre. Both the Congress and BJP are wary of the third front as a strategy for sustenance of their respective alliances.
Providing an alternative to the ruling party or coalition is part of political process in a democracy. Nobody should mind if regional parties should come together , make a joint front and provide the alternative. But to make Third Front a reality these parties will have to work very hard. The leaders of these parties will have to sink their differences and sublimate their egos. Otherwise they will meet the fate of the United Front Governments of Deva Gowda and Inder Kumar Gujaral which did not last even for two years.