BJP, Congress may face third front in 2019

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | SREEPARNA CHAKRABARTY
Published Feb 16, 2018, 1:00 am IST
Updated Feb 16, 2018, 1:00 am IST
At the heart of the explorations for a “third front” was the quest for dalit votes.
A senior Congress leader said: “Any vote against Rahul Gandhi is likely to benefit the BJP”.
 A senior Congress leader said: “Any vote against Rahul Gandhi is likely to benefit the BJP”.

New Delhi: Putting another spanner into the Congress’ dreams of a unified Opposition and forming a grand alliance for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, a section of regional satraps and the Left parties have begun parleys to cobble up a “third front”.  The parties which have begun talks include the Bahujan Samaj Party, Janata Dal (Secular), Rashtriya Lok Dal, Biju Janata Dal, the Left parties and Trinamul. The first such experiment is likely to be tried out in the coming crucial Lok Sabha bypolls in three Uttar Pradesh seats — Kairana, Phulpur and Gorakhpur.

It is learnt either RLD chief Ajit Singh or his son Jayant Chowdhary will be made the front’s candidate from Kairana, with the BSP’s help.  The seeds for this alliance were sown with the coming together of the BSP and Janata Dal (Secular), led by former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda, in Karnataka. Asked about this, CPI general secretary Sudhakar Reddy came out into the open on Thursday and made it clear the Communists were open to the idea. Sources said Mr Deve Gowda may issue a statement in the next few days assuring his party “will have nothing to do with the BJP” in order to assuage the doubts of the Left parties.

 

However, while these parties are unlikely to go with the BJP, their reluctance to come under the Congress umbrella could end up helping BJP as it will lead to a division in the secular as well as anti-incumbency votes. At the heart of the explorations for a “third front” was the quest for dalit votes. The dalit identity has reared its head across the country since incidents like the suicide of Rohith Vemula and the Una flogging and is likely to emerge as a major factor in the 2019 power game. It is this opportunity that Ms Mayawati is trying to exploit to gain back her relevance in the political scene.

One of the main reasons behind the explorations for a third front was that most regional satraps have issues about accepting Rahul Gandhi as the leader of any anti-BJP front, a senior Opposition leader said. Trinamul Congress chief Mamata Banerjee has already made a list of desirable attributes in a leader of such an alliance, and it does not fit Mr Gandhi’s bill.

Ms Mayawati also played ghost at all major Opposition meetings in recent times, making it clear that she was not ready to accept the leadership role of the Congress. However, the Congress Party is adamant that Mr Gandhi should be accepted as the leader of any such front. Former Congress president and UPA chief Sonia Gandhi had recently said that “Rahul is my boss too”. Senior Congress leader Ashok Gehlot has also said that only Mr Gandhi could be the leader for any such alliance.

A senior Congress leader said: “Any vote against Rahul Gandhi is likely to benefit the BJP”. Sources in the proposed third front, however, say that the Congress will have no option but to support them after the 2019 general election to keep the BJP out of power if the situation so demands. They added that after the 2019 polls, if the BJP fails to get a clear majority, many others like the Biju Janata Dal, Akali Dal and Telugu Desam Party might joint the alliance.

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