The Third Front this time around, is being pushed hard by out-of-circulation politicians as a viable alternative to the Congress or BJP led coalition government at the Centre post-elections. Even while going to press, there were reports emanating from Bangalore that the Third Front will take shape with leaders from almost all the rejected regional parties and the Left as the pivot. To begin with, the desperation in the Left is palpable as both Kerala and West Bengal are slipping out of their hands ? the time has become ripe for a change as people are starting to see through the Leftist agenda. There is widely felt fatigue over Left philosophy in regard to industrialisation and its hypocrisy when dealing with issues like SEZs in Singur and Nandigram. The effect of the CPM'sblow-hot-blow-cold policies will be far more emphatic in Kerala than in West Bengal. One wonders, if supporting Mahdani will help matters at all for the party which leads the LDF in the state.
The out-of-sight-out-of-mind politicians getting together before the general elections to forge an alliance called Third Front with no common agenda, programmes or philosophy has become a regular feature. The name ?Third Front? gives legitimacy to the exercise as it makes it sound like a credible alternative. This time too national parties like the Congress and the BJP along with their allies are perking up their act to deal with this nuisance. If you see the probable candidates in the so-called Front it can be as diverse as the CPM leaders, Mayawati, Chandrababu Naidu, Deve Gowda, Jayalalithaa and several other wannabes from NCP, and RJD.
The ridiculousness of this alliance which calls itself the third alternative is even worse than the UPA structure. Almost all the heads of the individual parties are prime ministers in waiting. Mayawati will join any party for that matter if that could ensure her immediate alleviation to the Prime Minister'sgaddi. She does not even hide her unbridled ambition or her various ways and means to reach that position. Deve Gowda who slept through most of his tenure as Prime Minister when circumstances forced him to be the head of state has betrayal written all over his face. Not very long ago, he withdrew support to the alliance with BJP in Karnataka after his son served his term as Chief Minister and it was BJP'sturn to have its man at the helm. In the elections that followed people in Karnataka voted for Yedurrappa with an absolute majority, and made Deve Gowda and his son irrelevant.
The case of Naveen Patnaik of Biju Janata Dal could be the same. Naveen Patnaik is only being too clever by half. His case is stranger. The Communists have been crying foul and calling him names (the worst being a ?Nazi?) ever since communal riots broke in Kandhamal. Chandrababu Naidu in Andhra Pradesh is fighting hard to be relevant. His only projected reason is that he wants to keep Congress at bay in his state.
If BJP has called the BJD confidence vote in Orissa a murder of democracy, it is an understatement, to put it mildly. Every rule in the book was broken on March 12, 2009 when the Naveen Patnaik government sought a vote of confidence in the Orissa assembly. The results were only too predictable if one had sat through the events in the house. The BJP might find the whole episode beneficial if it waits two more months to see what the people of the state think of Mr Clean and his antics to be in power.
But besides the political manoeuvering in the southern state which might enter the annals of Indian political history as second only to the cash-for-votes scandal in the Parliament a few months ago when the Left had withdrawn support to the Manmohan Singh government over the Indo-US nuclear deal, the even more revolting are the makings of the Third Front.
All non-national parties which want to buy its way to national politics, get a good deal for a few seats that they will win in the general elections and finally, dictate terms all through its existence at the Centre might pitch in to form the Third Front. But the contradictions themselves will tear the alliance apart. National parties like Congress and BJP should not have much to worry if they wait to watch the disintegration of the Front either before the elections or just after that. After all, leaders like Mayawati will not make her prime-ministership negotiable with her peers like Sharad Pawar, or even the other way round. But the electorate will have to be wary of the Front as it would only split the votes, make the elections inconclusive if the Front decides to make irresponsible promises, as it is wont to do, and even stay out of power just as the Left would choose to do while they enjoy all the privileges of being rulers.