The Uttar Pradesh results are just days away and some regional parties have begun to clutch at straws in what they believe will be the shifting wind.
They admit its too early and too ambitious but that hasnt stopped the JD-U in Bihar,Trinamool in West Bengal,BJD in Orissa and the TDP in Andhra Pradesh from talking of a united front. They have experience invoking federalism,they successfully stalled the UPAs National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) and the Lokayukta provisions in the Lokpal Bill,opposed FDI in multi-brand retail and blocked the land acquisition law. Now they are aiming higher,scenting a victory for the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh,a potential fifth partner.
One man who says he is working to get them together is former MP and perennial seat-predictor Arun Nehru. Hes set the fourth front ball rolling among CMs Nitish Kumar,Mamata Banerjee and Naveen Patnaik and TDP leader N Chandrababu Naidu. Sources confirmed that the Bihar CM had been in constant touch with Banerjee and Naidu,directly and through Nehru,to keep exploring possibilities.
Speaking to The Indian Express,Nehru said: Although there is no definite proposal (regarding a front) as yet,we are eagerly waiting for the UP Assembly results to know which political party goes with whom. We can have a clearer picture after the results. He admitted that he did discuss NCTC with Nitish Kumar and other leaders including Naidu.
Adding to the speculation is the overt political posturing by Banerjee who has launched a TMC office in Patna. A Patna High Court lawyer,who looks after CAT matters for Indian Railways in Bihar,has been asked to lead the Bihar wing of TMC as soon as the Nitish government helps get the party an office.
A test of their coordinated stand and how they will react to the UPA will come soon during the Presidential elections in July.
They have numbers to add. Of the 40 Bihar Lok Sabha seats,JD-U alone has 21 MPs; TMC has 19 of 42 West Bengal Lok Sabha seats. In Orissa,BJD has 14 of 21 MPs. TDP has six of 42 Lok Sabha seats in Andhra Pradesh.
In Bihar,JD-U has 117 of 243 Assembly seats (partner BJP has 91 seats); TMC has 183 seats on its own in the West Bengal Assembly of 294 members; BJD has 103 seats in the Orissa House of 147 members. TDP,that had won 92 of 294 Andhra Pradesh seats in the last Assembly elections,now has 82 members.
Asked about the talks,JD-U national spokesperson and Rajya Sabha MP Shivanand Tiwari said: It is too early to speculate. Lets see the UP election results. Some states have joined together on certain issues regarding maintaining sanctity of federal structure,lets see how that evolves.
(With ENS inputs from Kolkata and Hyderabad)