Saturday, February 08, 2014

Emergence of a Third Front. Should it work?

We are entering an exciting phase and a divisive turn as far as Indian Politics is concerned. There’s the party running the current government – Indian National Congress (INC). There’s the primary opposition party – Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). There’s a new kid on the block making waves (positive and negative) – Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the rest.

Congress is trying hard to project their achievements via print ads, TV ads, news channels and the like. At the same time, they are ardently defending, albeit with little success, the numerous corruption and scandals witnessed by the people of India during their tenure. BJP is in the drivers seat at the moment. They can sense victory over Congress for sure. Their only concern is how close they can reach to the magical figure of 272. They are leaving no stone unturned as far as criticizing the government for their failures. And then there is AAP. They took the Indian Political scenario by storm so much so that all the media agencies became their virtual PR. They surprised one and all by winning a lot of seats in their debut and as fate would have it, formed government with external support of the party they used to climb the political wagon! BJP knows AAP won’t win the general elections, but are capable of robbing seats they were supposed to win and cross 272. Like it or not, AAP is the main competitor of BJP.

But are we missing something? 
India is a country of 28 different states – states with unique cultures, languages, castes, behavior patterns, issues and leaders. A national party like Congress and BJP have not / cannot adhere to all of them. These dynamics and the inability to address these have given rise to “Regional Parties” popularly known as the “Third Front”. Regional parties have existed since long. They have a voice and identity in the state they operate. But they didn’t have enough numbers / desire to operate the center. Till now, that is. There are some relative biggies that form the regional parties – Trinamool Congress of West Bengal, AIADMK of Tamil Nadu, SP / BSP of Uttar Pradesh – based on who wins, JD (U) of Bihar and the Left. Add parties like NCP of Maharashtra and they become even more powerful. Now imagine AAP joining the ranks and BJP have genuine reasons to sweat. The leaders of each of the parties mentioned have aspirations to go national and form a Government devoid of Congress and BJP. And with elections a couple of months away, they have realized that this is their opportunity to rise above state level and dictate decision making in the center. No wonder there have been meetings among members of the party towards a possible coalition post the general elections. The only silver lining for the 2 national parties (Congress and BJP) is the weak bond between regional parties and it can be broken by promises of key portfolio’s by the largest party after the elections.

Now the question is – should 3rd front succeed?

Positives of Third Front forming a Government at the center – They are “preferred” by their own people who have voted for them unlike national parties who can win the election despite losing out on some states. The ‘winners’ are uniting to form a government rather than a mix of winners and losers. Even if one of the parties in the “Third Front” loses the state, it can bring in crucial numbers that can make a difference.

Negatives of Third Front forming a Government at the center – We will have a group of parties with different ideologies / practices coming together. They have won elections through different, and in some cases, non-convergent means. Also, if one of the parties feel others are being favored and they have been left out – they will quit the government thereby forcing a government to either fall / entice other MPs to join them. This reduces their probability to continue for full 5 years in power. Also, who among these leaders – Jayalalitha, Mulayam Singh, Mayawati, Nitish Kumar, Sharad Powar, Mamta Banerjee – wants to let go of the golden opportunity to become a PM?

India needs a single largest party to rule efficiently and compete with the China’s of the world. Congress can’t look like the party to provide us with one. BJP seems close, but will be hampered by the emergence of other parties and may have to ally with some of them if they are to win the election. Regional parties seems to be the alternative but will bring their own set of problems that will hamper governance. Not an apt solution in my opinion.


  1. You have analyzed it well. Honestly, in my opinion, we are in a mess.

    1. We are in a mess, I agree.. But after every trough, there's a crest. Wonder how it will emerge..

  2. As you rightly pointed out, the third front will not be able to sustain. So many groups, with different ideologies. It would be a mess.

    1. I feel ideologies and personal ambition will be the main pitfalls for the 3rd front. If (a big IF) they can overcome, they can run the government..


All yours..

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