India is all set to sail into the elections this May. And while the BJP and Congress continue wooing the citizens in their respective rallies, a third front has surprisingly cropped up in a bid to prevent both these parties from coming to power. Consisting of four left wing parties and seven regional parties, the third front has emerged with the sole aim of bringing a change to Indian politics and saving the country from both parties. While many still feel that it would be only one of the two parties that would come to power, some feel that the timing would be just right for a third front to snatch victory.
The conditions can’t be more perfect for the third front which first gathered together at an anti-communal convention last October last year after the deadly Muzaffarnagar riots. While suspicions about an alliance were rife at the meeting, Nitish Kumar made the official announcement in Delhi only last month.
The Pew Research Center conducted a poll recently in which over 60% of Indians believe that the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi would win the elections. However, Indian elections are known to provide surprises as well as shocks, with both the BJP and Congress getting a shock in the form of the Aam Aadmi Party in the Delhi elections last year.
The AAP’s popularity among the masses could spell trouble for BJP’s success at the national level. In order to form the next government, the BJP would have to win the maximum number of seats in the parliament which would be somewhere around 180-220 seats. The newly formed third front represent over 92s of the 272 parliamentary seats that would mean neither major party would be able to win an outright majority unless they coax the smaller parties into forming alliances. If that does not happen, then the third front would have the chance to steal a surprise victory.
Consisting of some of India’s most powerful regional leaders, including Nitish Kumar (Chief Minister of Bihar), Naveen Patnaik (Chief Minister of Odisha), Jayalalitha (Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu) and H. D. D Gowda (India’s 11th prime minister), the third front could very well turn the tables on both the BJP and the Congress this year. However, there are many doubts that linger around the alliance and its ability to perform as a unified government, should it emerge victorious in the elections.
For instance, while the parties comprising the third front have immense power in their respective states, it would remain to be seen if their collective votes would be enough to seal a victory at the national level. The parties have not made a binding agreement as well, and have formed a loose coalition which can likely break if they decide to move back to the major parties.
India’s business community is also worried about the business efficacy of the third front which promises on issuing joint statements and providing common minimum programs , but might not have what it takes to revive the country’s ailing economy via structural reforms.
The question of leadership in the third front is also uncertain, with the parties not declaring their prime ministerial candidate yet. Chances are strong that in addition to lobbying for the coveted chair, the parties would suffer loss of support if regional voters do not choose the prime ministerial candidate.
With the elections looming ahead, India has started witnessing several interesting developments in its political lineup; including the formation of the third front, comprising of 11 regional and left wing parties, to oppose both the Congress and BJP political parties. While the third front may seem like a likely contender to form the nation’s 16th government, it still has to find a way to win the people’s hearts and overcome its shortcomings. However, given the fact that Indian elections are always unpredictable, and that the nation is divided between the Congress’s corruption scandals and the BJP’s communalist propaganda, the third front may just be about to snatch a surprise victory and end the decades long control of India by these two main parties.