How Realistic is the Third Front Idea?

Who will wear the crown in Indian politics in the 2014 General Elections? It is not so easy to guess. Although the public is fed up with the Congress governance they are not finding any strong alternative to it. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) thinks that they are the alternative, but when some of their senior party members are not sure about it, then we can easily surmise about the real condition of the party.  Neither the Congress nor the BJP : then who will be the next contender? This question has raised the hopes of Mulayam Singh Yadav, the Samajwadi Party supremo. After a huge victory in the Uttar Pradesh (UP ) Legislative Assembly Elections, Mulayam Singh Yadav recommended his son as the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. This decision made by Mr. Yadav clearly indicates that he is dreaming of becoming the next Prime Minister of India. He has again started to urge the formation of the Third Front. According to him the equation of the 2014 General Elections is becoming very complicated. The Congress will be rejected by the public and the BJP due to its ‘Hindyutawadi’ (Hinduness) image will be unable to win the hearts of the minorities. The way in which the supporters of the NDA are keeping their eyes on the throne of the Central Government, it is quite obvious that if there is any possibility of making an anti-Congress or an anti-BJP party, then Mulayam Singh’s party may become the strong contender.
But to fulfill his dreams, Mulayam Singh has to win at least 60 seats from  UP which is not going to be easy for him. Mulayam Singh often keeps reminding every leader and personnel in his party of this fact.  This is the second time in his political career that Mulayam Singh is dreaming of becoming the Prime Minister of the country. In 1996, he first dreamt of it, but at that time he didn’t have a sufficient number of Members of Parliament ( MPs ) to become a strong leader of the Third Front. The Janata Dal was the strongest party in the Third Front at that time; therefore both H. D. Deve Gowda and Inder Kumar Gujral, who went on to occupy the Prime Minister’s chair  were selected from that party. Mulayam Singh was content to become the Defence Minister. There was a time when Mulayam Singh surely could have become the Prime Minister, but at the last moment Sonia Gandhi shook him by preferring Inder Kumar Gujral as the Prime Minister in place of H. D. Deve Gowda.

Although Mulayam Singh is aspiring to become the Prime Minister with the help of the Third Front, the attitude of the voters has changed a lot in the last few years. Now they are giving priority to a government led by a single party. Experience also suggests that a Government which is run by a big party reigns for a longer period of time.

Mulayam Singh does not want to repeat the mistakes  he made in 1996. But this time the conditions are favourable and his relations with the Congress are also good. After making his son Akhilesh Yadav the Chief Minister of UP, he made clear his intention of becoming the Prime Minister. He wants to fulfill this dream with the help of the Third Front. That is why he is urging formation of the Third Front. Moreover, the concept of the Third Front will not be applied for the first time. This has been applied previously, but at that time Mulayam Singh was not in the lead role. This time he wants to act in a lead role in the Third Front. After his forecast that the Congress and BJP would not come to power, he started to focus on the Third Front. He began meeting those leaders who can help him in forming the Third Front. He is also improving his party’s strength in states like Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Bihar and Uttarakhand. It is a fact that only with the help of the Third Front, can  the Samajwadi party achieve something in the Centre. But without the support of the Communist Party, the Third front cannot be formed.  The Communist Party hasn’t shown any interest in the Third Front yet. Moreover the none too cordial relations between Mulayam Singh and the Communists are not hidden from anybody. During the discussions on the nuclear deal, the way in which Mulayam Singh left the Communists and supported the Congress, made the Communists very annoyed with him.
Yet Mulayam Singh hasn’t taken any serious step to reduce their annoyance and there is no other leader like Harkishan Singh Surjeet, who will help in bringing both the parties closer. So the Communists are suggesting the Third Front is fiction in order to make fun of Mulayam Singh. It is also true that Mulayam Singh thinks he is a very good leader, but actually his stature is not like, for example, that of V. P. Singh. The leaders who are could be responsible for forming the Third Front by creating unity in several political parties are likely to be A. V. Bardhan, Prakash Karat, Sharad Pawar and Karunanidhi. But some leaders with the wish of becoming the Prime Minister can obstruct them. The image of the Third Front which is envisaged by Mulayam Singh is dependent on the role of the old leaders. Many states have anti-Congress and anti-BJP parties. Among the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and the All India Anna Dramuk Munnetra Kazhagam [AIADMK] of Tamil Nadu, either one of these can be the third alternative. Rashtrawadi Congress of Maharashtra, Trinamool Congress of West Bengal and Biju Janata Dal of Orissa also could play the main role. Whereas the adroit politician Lalu Prasad Yadav can also act as an obstructer in the way of Nitish Kumar for becoming the Prime Minister.
Mulayam Singh might show a strong intent for forming the Third Front, but actually he is very weak internally. Although he is urging formation of the Third Front, but we do not have faith in his views because he often changes his views. After the Legislative Assembly Election results were declared on March 11, 2012, he said that the idea of the Third Front is impractical. But on March 20, when he was asked to join hands with the Congress he refused and stated that there is no chance of any political alliance now.  He made this statement at that time when he was asked about the threats that can come to Manmohan Singh’s government due to separation of the Trinamool Congress. While urging the formation of the Third Front, Mulayam Singh is taking unrealistic steps of which he also might not be sure. Mulayam Singh also knows that he is not the only contender for the Prime Ministership ; around half a dozen contenders are there.  Many leaders can appear at the last moment.
The only dark spot in the desired plan of Mulayam Singh is none other than the chief of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Mayawati. Mayawati will never wish that her strong rival Mulayam Singh becomes the Prime Minister. So she will not hesitate to join hands with any party. Unlike the Legislative Assembly Elections, Mulayam Singh will get no chance to mark the mistakes of Mayawati during the Lok Sabha Elections. Rather he will have to answer the questions that will be raised on the drawbacks of his own party. Due to the anarchism and communal situation which is emerging in UP, an anti-power situation has been created in the state. If they do not change this situation then by the time the Lok Sabha Elections take place, this will turn into a storm which will undoubtedly affect the Samajwadi Party.
On the other hand, the efforts  of Mulayam Singh to form a  Third Front have made the leaders of Congress and BJP restless. Both of them have disagreed with his views and also claimed that their Government will come in at the Centre. Rashid Mashood, an MP, who joined the Congress from the SP just before the Legislative Assembly Elections said that whatever Mulayam Singh may suggest, it is the public which will decide who will become the next Prime Minister.  No tax is levied for watching dreams. Cabinet Minister Beni Prasad Verma created headlines after using unparliamentary words for the ideas of Mulayam Singh on the Third Front. Dr. Rita Bahuguna Joshi, Chairman of UP Congress said that the Congress will come form the Central Government. Lakshmikant Bajpai, Chairman of the state BJP said that the public will not repeat mistakes ( which they made by choosing SP in the state elections )in the Lok Sabha Elections. Hriday Narayan Dixit, spokesperson of the BJP in UP said that Mulayam Singh is making such statements to divert the attention of the public from the anarchy of the state. In the presence of the UPA, the idea of the Third Front is impractical. Mulayam Singh himself is supporting the alliance government of the Congress, so this Third Front move is not expected from him.
If we talk about the public view, then although Mulayam Singh is aspiring to become the Prime Minister with the help of the Third Front, the attitude of the voters has changed a lot in the last few years. Now they are giving priority to a government led by a single party. Experience also suggests that the Government which is run by a big party reigns for a longer period of time. Currently the power of the NDA is in the hands of BJP and the power of the UPA is in the hands of Congress. So they are continuously going forward. If we look at the results of the 2009 Lok Sabha Elections, then we will find that the voters of UP have helped 21 Congress candidates to win. This is an indication that they want different parties in the State and at the Centre. The Muslims on whom the SP has faith were seen to be in favour of Congress at that point of time.

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