Indian National Congress IMAGE.
Neither the Congress nor the BJP relish the prospect of a third force jostling with their respective formations for political space. But however tenuous the idea of third front might be, none of the parties just cannot wish it away. Third front is history, said BJP spokesperson Ravishankar Prasad today, but history has this irritating habit of repeating itself. Come 2014, the country might witness an alternative political formation to the UPA and the NDA.
The experiment has been disastrous with no such formation being able to provide a stable government. The United Front- an amalgam of 13 political parties- formed two fragile governments between 1996 and 1998 and there have been abortive efforts to stitch together parties incompatible with the Congress and the BJP ideologically and otherwise. But none has lasted. Conflicting egos and ambitions among leaders and pervading mutual mistrust ensured that the third front remained inherently unstable.
But the idea won't go away. The reason is simple: There has always been enough scope for such a formulation in the available political space. Now that the Congress is shrinking across the country and the BJP has not been able to expand enough to capture the space for itself, the opportunity for the formation of a third front has gone bigger than ever before. That explains the sense of urgency in Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav's efforts to reach out to other like-minded leaders and parties.
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