Third Front? No, it is going to be NDA vs UPA

Various surveys have indicated that both the BJP and the Congress are down in the dumps and the third front or even the mystical fourth front coming up to dictate the national discourse. Most of them, especially a recent C-voter survey, are indicating the possibilities of a hung Parliament. Of course, it is too early to take a call, because neither of the two leading parties have disclosed the cards they hold close to their chest.

Mulayam Singh leading some prospective Third Front members

Mulayam Singh leading some prospective Third Front members

Parkala Observer: Shrikant N Shenoy

News analysts have now started dismissing as a distant possibility a direct fight between Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi. For reasons obvious, both camps — the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance one one hand and the Congress party-led United Political Alliance on the other — are shy of openly declaring as to who will lead their election 2014 campaign.

A NaMo vs RaGa campaign had excited the media to no end, especially since December 2012. Almost all news anchors, from the right, left and centre, seemed to want the coming elections as a direct fight between the two leaders, a la a US presidential fight.

However, both political sides have been reticent, and understandably so, to oblige the shouting brigade in the media.

Of course, it is not only the media, but also the coalition partners that have been expounding their thoughts, more so in the NDA.

But various surveys have indicated that both the BJP and the Congress are down in the dumps and the third front or even the mystical fourth front coming up to dictate the national discourse.

Most of them, especially a recent C-voter survey, are indicating the possibilities of a hung Parliament. Of course, it is too early to take a call, because neither of the two leading parties have disclosed the cards they hold close to their chest.

The basic issue faced by political pundits from various shades and hues is that they are not yet able to read the stars correctly. The coming monsoon also holds the key. The dark clouds that have been forecast for this year are clearly hiding the skies.

Bravado from either side cannot be an indication, and no one can read the horoscopes nor the minds of the parties which are part of the current coalitions.

Take for example, Mulayam Singh Yadav, the man who hunts with the hounds but runs with the hares. Even Mamatadidi did not know what hit her during the presidential election. Mulayam is the most unpredictable element now.

Others like Nara Chandrababu Naidu have not yet come to terms with remaining out of power for a long time. Events have overtaken him and his Telugu Desam party; they have lost it completely and he — the original reformer — cannot comprehend which side he should go to retain his lustre.

Some like Navin Patnaik and J Jayalalithaa are still keeping their preferences in their hearts, but Patnaik would prefer a third or front rather than joining a coalition led by either the Congress or the BJP.

Nitish Kumar is just a red herring. He faces the same fate which Chandrababu Naidu faced. Leave the NDA and get consigned to the margins or join the UPA and yet be consigned to the margins.

Naidu got infatuated with the Left and he has paid the price. He is now wondering how to get out of the muck which has been has been his own creation. There are indicators that he is now seriously considering getting back into the NDA fold. There is simply no other option for him. Jaganmohan Reddy and his YSR Congress Party and Naidu’s ambiguity over the contentious Telangana issue have made the latter a “no show”, at least in Andhra Pradesh, notwithstanding his attempts to reach out to the populace with his mass contact programme.

A lot has been said about other political combinations and permutations and this will continue for quite some time, may be even after the Lok Sabha elections results have been declared.

No political pundit true to his salt –from either side of the divide — will give a definitive conclusion.

But coming back to the NaMo vs RaGa episodes, which some have still stuck to religiously, let us now take a look at the current situation. Here, we take a look at the much-trumpeted online poll conducted by rediff.com.

Most probably India’s oldest news portal, rediff.com’s results of the online survey shows that a whopping 76 per cent picked up Narendra Modi as their choice for prime minister.

Over some seven days, 64,275 readers cast their votes (figures as on 11 am on Monday, April 15) and the results showed that RaGa was far, far behind with “a mere” 3,577 votes.

Manmohan Singh, destined to be known forever as the man who only kept the “seat” warm for RaGa, got only a few hundred votes behind his political master — or mistress’ — son.

Others followed, P Chidambaram, L K Advani, Nitish Kumar, in that order. The only reason we can comprehend Nitish being in that list of 11 — at two per cent — is because of the noises he has been making against that “iron man” from Gujarat.

We can safely ignore the others on that list.

But then polls are just polls, which we can take with a pinch of salt.

Loathe him as much as you can, but ignore him at your own peril. No one has electrified India as Modi has done. The Modi effect has been felt even deep down south, like in remote villages in Tamil Nadu.

There is one thing we might safely say: We, in the media, enjoy a jolly good controversy. And Mr Modi has always been controversial and will remain controversial, for ever. It helps our “TRPs”, you know!

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