Non-Congress, non-BJP parties in Rajasthan have been exhorting each other to put up a united front, but the results have been mixed — with two major third fronts coming up in the state so far. On October 27, six parties, mainly the Left, announced they were joining hands to form the Rajasthan Loktantrik Morcha (RLM). These included the CPI, CPI (M), CPI (ML), MCPI (U), Janata Dal (Secular) and Samajwadi Party.
In September last year, CPM state secretary and former MLA Amra Ram led a farmers’ agitation in Shekhawati region, centred in Sikar. Post the intense but violence-free 13-day protest, the state government had announced a farm debt waiver of up to Rs 50,000.
Amra Ram is now the CM candidate of the RLM. Each of the six constituent parties has at least two leaders in the 15-member core committee. They say their doors are open to all ‘non-Congress, non-BJP’ parties that are “secular, people-oriented and wish to struggle for the needs and demands of the common man”.
In their declaration, they mention that there are trying to invite Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) to the front ‘so that there is no division of votes and we can assist each other’. “We appeal to all anti-Congress and anti-BJP parties to become a part of policy-based political alternative,” the RLM had said.
Two days after the constitution of the RLM, independent MLA and Jat leader Hanuman Beniwal launched his Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP) on October 29. Flanking Beniwal was veteran politician Ghanshyam Tiwari, who had parted ways with the BJP earlier this year and launched his own Bharat Vahini Party, and Rashtriya Lok Dal scion Jayant Chaudhary. Interestingly, SP, which had announced support to RLM, was also present at the launch of RLP; SP’s Sanjay Lathar shared the stage with Beniwal and Tiwari as SP representative. Beniwal may influence a few Jat-dominated seats while Tiwari hopes to influence upper-caste voters, hoping that their synergy brings in more voters than their individual influence.
Beniwal too, asserted that this was the ‘third front’, and announced that he would invite more like-minded anti-Congress, anti-BJP parties to strengthen the front. However, he too hasn’t had much luck from other parties after the October 29 rally.
On whether the two third fronts could join hands, Amra Ram said RLM leaders have spoken to non-Congress, non-BJP parties and are still hopeful of a “positive outcome” on inclusion of more parties.
“We are in touch with Beniwal and hopeful of things taking shape. We are with anyone who speaks for farmers. We had also spoken to BSP, but they are awaiting instructions from their high command,” Amra Ram told The Indian Express.
AAP and BSP, meanwhile, have already announced some candidates. BSP, which has announced 11 candidates, mainly in eastern districts, maintains that it will contest on its own. “We will contest all 200 seats on our own,” said BSP state president Sitaram Meghwal. Asked about the division of votes among non-BJP, non-Congress parties, Meghwal said, “It will be good for us.”
AAP’s Rajasthan convenor Devendra Shastri, who is also party candidate from Jaipur’s Civil Lines Assembly seat, said, “We had spoken to most of these parties and leaders 4-5 months ago, including the Left, regarding a tie-up.
However, they did not take things seriously then. So we have announced 62 candidates, and about 45 more have been finalised and are awaiting declaration. Now how can we adjust other parties on these seats? As for other seats, we can consider not fielding a candidate if we think the third front candidate is strong. However, our target as of now is fielding candidates in all 200 seats.”