A non-BJP, non-Congress coalition: Back to Front?

A third front is, by definition, destined for the third place. In its very formation, such a coalition concedes the dominance of the other two players. When Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao mooted a non-BJP, non-Congress ‘federal’ front, he was already defining the alliance negatively, in terms of its opponents rather than as a coming together of like-minded parties. No wonder he found ready support from West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, whose Trinamool Congress is fighting the Left and the Congress on one side, and the BJP on the other. A coalition put together on such a loose foundation may not find much resonance among voters nationally. Indeed, in India’s political history, the only instances when non-Congress, non-BJP coalitions came to power were in the ninth and eleventh Lok Sabhas. In each case, the governments were supported from the outside by either the Congress or the BJP. While the V.P. Singh government survived on the BJP’s support, the Chandra Shekhar government was at the mercy of the Congress. The two United Front governments, with H.D. Deve Gowda and I.K. Gujral as Prime Ministers, were likewise propped up by the Congress. These governments were all formed in post-poll confabulations, and not through pre-poll alliances. Political circumstances have changed and it is unclear whether the BJP and the Congress will support a grouping of smaller parties just to keep each other out of power. In any case, the third front as proposed by Mr. Rao cannot be an electoral alliance in the proper sense. The parties Mr. Rao seems to have in mind do not add to each other’s vote banks: they are mostly fighting their own battles in their own areas. The Trinamool Congress and Mr. Rao’s Telangana Rashtra Samiti of course have nothing in common, other than a shared antipathy to the BJP and the Congress.

After his meeting with Ms. Banerjee, Mr. Rao spoke of a political alternative with a development programme that will “depart from the routine kind of administration” provided by the BJP and the Congress. As a regional party with the Congress as its main rival, and the BJP a potential threat, the TRS is at present irrelevant outside of Telangana. A third front in whatever form is Mr. Rao’s vehicle to arrive on the national stage. Both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh are scheduled to have Assembly elections along with the Lok Sabha polls in 2019, and without the pretence of being a part of a national-level alliance, the TRS will struggle to be seen as a serious player in the parliamentary election. By all accounts, Mr. Rao and Ms. Banerjee covered little common ground. Unlike Mr. Rao, Ms. Banerjee was non-committal on keeping the Congress out. For the Trinamool, the Left and the BJP remain the principal threats, and at the national level the Congress is still a partner Ms. Banerjee can do political business with. The federal front can only be a hastily formed post-poll alliance.


Our code of editorial values

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Dec 1, 2021 12:21:46 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/back-to-front/article23305612.ece

Next Story