Elections to the 15th Lok Sabha are underway. This election has been characterized as one devoid of any major campaign issue. It appears that both the two national parties –BJP and Congress- are losing their influence. They are losing out to smaller niche, rural parties and caste groups. This is turning out to be a great opportunity for a wide variety of smaller party leaders and the Left parties to exert their influence. They all are aiming at either becoming kings or king-makers.
All these parties and leaders have come together to form the Third Front. Their only common ideal? Ambition. Whenever the non-Congress, non-BJP lead alliances have ruled the country, there have been long periods of social, economic and political instability. The first non-Congress government formed by the Janata Party ruled for 3 years (1977-1980) and had two Prime ministers – Morarji Desai and Charan Singh. The next non-Congress, non-BJP government was the National Front government which lasted for 2 years (1989-1991) and had two Prime ministers – V.P.Singh and Chandrasekhar. The United Front government lasted less than 2 years (1996-1998) and had 2 Prime ministers – H.D. DeveGowda and I.K. Gujral.
If we look at the trend, we will notice that unstable Third Front governments and stable BJP/Congress led governments come to power alternately. So if that trend continues, we can be sure that we will see another unstable Third Front government coming to power this time.
Interestingly, two new groups seem to be emerging in the political scene. The first group claims it is a non-Congress, non-BJP and non-Third Front alliance and calls itself the Fourth Front. The constituents of the Front are the parties of the movie stars Praja Rajyam Party (of Chiranjeevi in Andhra Pradesh) and DMDK (of Vijaykanth in Tamil Nadu). The alliance within the UPA alliance – Lalu Yadav, Ram Vilas Paswan and Mulayam Yadav , Sharad Pawar – also seem to be gravitating towards the Fourth Front.
The second is a disparate group of individuals who are mostly highly successful professionals in their chosen fields and have entered the politics with noble intentions. They are contesting as independents in urban constituencies that have higher number of educated middle class voters. They include Meera Sanyal from South Mumbai, Capt. Gopinath from South Bangalore, Sarath Babu from South Chennai, Ashish Saxena (a 30 year old social worker-) and Mallika Sarabhai from Ahmadabad among others.
The established parties are worried about these independents and hence brand them as spoilers and many voters wonder if elected, will they achieve anything worthwhile since they will not have any clout in the government. Since voters do not perceive them as winnable, they also have a lower chance of getting these votes.
It is very likely that these candidates do not win this election. But there is definitely hope for them for the next election. The Indian middle class is expanding and the number of urban Lok Sabha seats is increasing. The frustration of the middle class voters at non-performing politicians is increasing and if there is a viable alternative, these voters are definitely going to vote for that alternative.
In my mind, the best alternative is the formation of the Fifth Front. This Front should bring together all the capable independents under one fold and have a set of common manifesto. The candidates themselves should have individual manifestos that touch upon the developmental issues pertaining to their constituency.
They should also rope in similar minded people like Shashi Tharoor, K. Pandiarajan from other parties and parties like Lok Satta, Lok Paritran, Jago Party and Professionals Party of India. This Front will have no caste, regional or linguistic identity and will have the noble purpose of serving the country. The Front will focus on developmental activities for the countries and not try to divide the country along various lines.
Is it possible? The answer is yes. Is it probable? Tough to say. What do you think?