When Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi came back to power for the third consecutive term in the state, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa was the star attraction at his swearing-in ceremony. The picture of Jaya presenting a bouquet to her ‘friend’ Modi became a talking point and many thought this bonhomie would very much define the constituents of the National Democratic Alliance in 2014. But a year in politics is a long time and it seems it was long enough for Amma to change her mind.
In a surprise move, the AIADMK has decided to forge an alliance with the Left – CPI and CPM, setting the stage for a possible Third Front ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. Though the BJP and the Congress are still in denial, a third force is taking shape, slowly and gradually.
With 39 Lok Sabha seats in Tamil Nadu, Jaya has the potential of throwing a spanner in Modi’s PM ambition. If at all she goes for this juggernaut, the future third front will have to bury differences to reach the magical figure of 272. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has already drawn first blood by ending a 17-year alliance with the BJP. Odisha’s Naveen Patnaik, once an NDA partner, is also a potential third front partner.
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Historically, the Left parties had been the cog in the giant third front wheel. But, with its fortunes hitting rock bottom in the last election and a complete washout in its bastion West Bengal, it is unlikely that the CPM, CPI will have the same leverage of maneuvering the course of a third front. More so because Mamata Banerjee is fighting a ‘bitter Left legacy’ in West Bengal. And it will be asking for too much from her to come along with the Left parties. The SP and the BSP – the two big regional players and political opportunists – might just end up being in this alliance.
But what happens when these splinter groups come together? They will certainly push their personal agenda. Moreover, most of these regional satraps nurture the ambition of becoming the prime minister. If the idea of a third front does become a reality, the equation at the Centre might get changed dramatically. With the election season just hotting up, change in loyalties and formation of new alliances are only going to be the norm.