The formation of a third alternative is a welcome development given the state of politics in India. India made great strides using the concept of a “mixed economy” until the 1980s. Several public sector undertakings made worthwhile contributions to the economy till liberalisation, and crony capitalism eroded the glory of the public sector. States such as West Bengal, Assam, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala have had a long record of good governance by secular parties whose tall leaders were aware of the problems at grass-roots level. The leaders of the third alternative should now sit together and formulate a common minimum programme and face the electorate confidently as a viable alternative. Their presence will help restore our faith in democracy.
If the collective aim of all the constituent parties of the third alternative is to fight the election in the true spirit of doing something good for the people, then we do welcome their unity. On the other hand, if they have united only in the face of the ascendance of Mr. Modi to prevent him from becoming Prime Minister, then this experiment might prove very costly as we cannot afford to have another short-lived bloc. This is because there are too many aspirants for the prime ministerial post in this group.
V. Kameswera Rao,
The alternative may flounder as there are bound to be two successive battles among its leaders — one before the election and one after. The two national parties are also likely to do everything they can to slow the progress of this front.
Sivaganga, Tamil Nadu
In terms of poll arithmetic, not one party barring the BSP to a very limited extent, is capable of ensuring the transfer of votes to its allies outside its home State — and where it will not give seats to allies. The second aspect is the strong prime ministerial ambitions of at least half a dozen “leaders” of these parties which will ultimately prove to be internecine. And, finally, even if this group gets 272+ in the 16th Lok Sabha, not all of them can come together because some of these combinations are regional rivals. It is bound to come apart like a pack of cards.
Theoretically sound but practically infeasible is what I would say about the move. How can so many ideologically divergent parties come together and govern as one entity? Changing loyalties are bound to plague the contemplated move as there will always be the hunger for power.
Pre-poll alliances are akin to political cartelisation driving down competition in order to maximise votes/seats while depriving voters of benefits and choices.
There is nothing to bind the 11 political parties other than their aversion and antipathy towards the Congress and the BJP. They may come up with a common minimum programme, but the absence of an ideology that can lend weight and meaning to the programme stands out in sharp focus. Any alternative to the Congress and the BJP should offer to the electorate the option of accepting leadership and principles that will see the country through the next five years. What do these 11 parties offer in terms of leadership or the tenets that Parliament will look for, to add value to the country’s bottom line in agriculture, industry and commerce?
Practically every leader of the parties of this group wants to become the next Prime Minister. A careful look at a number of these leaders shows that they have little experience in national governance. This grouping would do well to form an alliance with the BJP and lead the country in the event of a BJP win.
Can this grouping guarantee that it will avoid putting up candidates with a criminal and corrupt background? Rather, it should lead a movement that calls for the postponement of the general election till all our major problems are solved. The country has undergone systemic failures, policy paralysis and rapid deterioration on almost all fronts. Our only succour is the judiciary. In a country with a population of over a billion, with more than 40 per cent of them youth, we certainly need this clean-up operation. The voter should stop being made the guinea pig.
One half of the leaders would want to become prime ministers, with the remainder wanting to assume the role of power centres without any accountability and responsibility. The country can ill-afford such a dispensation. The Indian voter is also wiser than what politicians think he/she is.