NEW DELHI: Though the 2024 general elections are around 18 months away, the major regional parties with national ambitions came together last week to project themselves as a third front not only against the Bharatiya Janata Party, but also as an alternative to the Congress. However, this move seems to be an attempt to leverage their so-called national status to get a bigger share of seats to fight from and win in case of an Opposition grand alliance comes into being in the Lok Sabha elections. As Uttar Pradesh-based political analyst Anand Dadariya said, “Neither do these parties have any nationwide appeal, nor do they have any opportunities outside of their respective states. So a third front will not be successful. However, every party wants to leverage its standing before the elections to get the maximum number of seats in the seat sharing exercise, so that they can have better numbers in Parliament, in case there is a broad-based opposition alliance.”
Congress leaders believe that their party’s Bharat Jodo Yatra is making a lot of buzz, and thus has enhanced its street power and also given it a boost at street-level politics, which in turn has somewhat “squeezed” the space of the Opposition parties that are trying to fill the vacuum created by Congress’ “slow politics”, in their own areas.
A steering committee member of the Congress said, “Now the Congress is coming back. They have felt inspired by the success of the yatra.” Earlier, with a weaker Congress, according to party leaders, alliance partners would have got a better seat count in seat-sharing talks as the Congress was counted as a dwindling force.
Another senior Congress leader said that with the image makeover of the party after the yatra’s constant ability to keep the Congress in news and on social media platforms, “we will have a more authoritative hand and a more central role in the seat sharing formulae, if the Congress remains active until the 2024 elections.”
The existing formula of the “third front” has a language problem. The non-Congress, non-BJP parties’ idea is to persuade their people in their respective states that their parties have a grander space at the national stage which makes the top leaders, who are heading these parties, a competitive force in the prime ministerial race.
By this, the “third front” is expecting to increase their share of acceptance within the electorate that votes against the BJP in general elections, expecting that they would be able to draw more votes, thereby giving them (“third front” parties) merit to negotiate better for a maximum seat count in the event of an alliance with the Congress. However, that phenomenon, according to political analysts, would have little benefits and no major consequence as the Congress even in its worst has an undeniable existence among the people at the national stage against the BJP.
Moreover, a new alliance would be difficult for people to accept when the Congress is already existing at a much larger scale on the national stage. The case in point is, when leaders from other states spoke in Telangana, there seemed to be a clear language barrier between the outside leaders and the local people. Arvind Kejriwal, Bhagwant Mann and Akhilesh Yadav spoke in Hindi and Pinarayi Vijayan in English, drawing a meagre response. And it was left to Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao to stir the audience.
A political analyst said, “If K. Chandrashekhar Rao (BRS chief) goes to Uttar Pradesh, he would be unable to gather a respectable crowd there, as people in UP would ask each other who he is. They don’t know about him. This is because he is not a leader in UP, he is a popular leader but only in Telangana. UP has its own popular leaders like Yogi Adityanath (BJP) and Akhilesh Yadav (SP). Even if they are told that KCR is a big leader in Telangana, most people will struggle to try and locate Telangana on the map. Therefore, such sort of an alliances is bound to fail.”