Politics is driven by a primary energy. That energy is belief and thought. The belief that you can help improve things around you. It could be a neighbourhood, a community, a state or a country, and with a larger view, perhaps even the world.
Eleven parties in India say they are working to offer a viable non-Congress, non-BJP option in the 2014 General Election. The basis of the Front is not any idea or ideal, but a primary agenda. The agenda to form a Non Congress, Non BJP government at the centre. This sort of an idea is both harmful and disingenuous for a country like India, going through a transition and change phase.
All these parties have had a government in their states, either in alliance, or single handedly. The four Left parties [CPM, CPI, RSP, Forward Bloc] in West Bengal and Kerala, the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh (incumbent), the AIADMK in Tamil Nadu (incumbent), the Janata Dal [U] in Bihar (incumbent), the Janata Dal [S] in Karnataka, the BJD in Odisha (incumbent), the AGP in Assam and Jharkhand Vikas Morcha[JVM] head Babulal Marandi in Jharkhand when he was in the BJP.
The states they governed are the equivalent of countries elsewhere in terms of population, intensity of work and impact of policy. These 11 parties ought to,therefore, have developed a sense of India and the world by now.
Yet, nothing about them suggests that they have learned. The Left parties, for instance, cannot even agree on Telangana. The CPM and the RSP are against the formation of a Telangana state; the CPI and the Forward Bloc are for it. If we look at the entire block, there is no consensus on Telangana. The SP and AIADMK were against Telangana, while the BJD and Janata Dal [S] voted for Telangana in the Parliament.
The AGP and the AIADMK have core border issues that impact relations with other countries. This is of no concern to the JVM. We don’t even know what Marandi thinks of India’s planned land swap with Bangladesh or what he thinks India should do about Sri Lanka and the Tamils there. Our foreign policy will be a total mess, dictated by different regions based on their vote bank.
What do these 11 parties think India should do about mining? Allow it? Not allow it? What do they think about our energy plans? Do we stick with fossil fuel? How do we make solar energy policy? Should we link our rivers?
The only thing we know is that these 11 parties are opposed to the Congress and the BJP currently. But all of them have had substantial working relationships with the Congress and the BJP in the past, in some cases by turn.
We may thus deduce that these 11 parties do not like Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi. Modi is communal and Gandhi is incapable of leading this 1.2 billion strong nation. You cannot seek to govern India merely because you dislike Modi and Rahul Gandhi. The narrative of India demands far more. The Left parties had an opportunity to galvanise themselves after they were voted out in West Bengal. But they have been in a state of stasis for close to three years.
All this generates melancholy. There is space for non-Congress non-BJP politics but it can’t be only on the grounds of being against something or someone. You need to be for something as well. There needs to be a common minimum programme. The grounds should be established. And a common manifesto of the block should be presented to the voters. Only then can the Third Front be a viable idea for India.
Moreover, there are many leaders within this block harbouring Prime Ministerial Ambitions- The SP supremo, Mulayam Singh Yadav, JD(U) Chief Nitish Kumar and AIADMK Chief, Jayalalitha. Mulayam is disastrous. The other two have some positives. None of them, however, can make us cross our hearts and hope to die in the belief that we finally have the best person at the top.
Non-Congress non-BJP governments have died fast in the past: VP Singh and Chandra Shekhar in 1990 and 1991; HD Deve Gowda and IK Gujral in 1997 and 1998. Let’s keep Morarji Desai out of this because he was the first non-Congress prime minister [after a lifetime in the party] at a time of special circumstances not in play since.
As voters, we have a responsibility to those who passed before us and those who shall come after us. What shall we tell them? That we left India in motley hands? That we were naive? They deserve better.