A Third Front encore ?

Fourteen non-Congress, non-BJP secular parties sought to present themselves as the bulwark against communalism ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. The congregation is positioning itself as a claimant to political space that regional leaders feel is being vacated by a reduced Congress-led UPA and is clearly a bid to emerge as a decisive factor in the next elections.
The meeting was attended by Sharad Pawar’s NCP, which with nine MPs is the largest Congress partner in Parliament, along with Left parties and regional outfits like SP, BJD, AIADMK and JD (U). Others included Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), RSP, Jharkhand Vikas Morcha, People’s Party of Punjab (PPP) and Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh.
Calculating that BJP is not poised to fill the vacuum, and eyeing political gains at the expense of a weakened Congress, the parties that gathered at the Talkatora stadium here presented a strong showing in the cause against communalism.
Leaders of parties that can cobble up over 100 Lok Sabha seats dropped enough hints that the unity initiative should be extended further. But as of now, they said, talk of a third front will be immature. Kumar’s move makes BJP’s task all the more tougher
The dynamics at work were evident as Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh was a main constituent despite the Uttar Pradesh government being accused of ineptitude and deliberate politics in dealing with the Muzzaffarnagar riots.
The bonhomie was visible even though former CPI general secretary A B Bardhan bluntly told Mulayam Singh that if normalcy has to return to Muzaffarnagar, UP government should make efforts to send people living in camps to their homes.
Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalithaa’s speech read out by AIADMK leader M Thambidurai also struck a different note. She said, “State is often seen to be acceding to pressure of minority demands at one time and majority demands at another time which has fuelled the activities of various people.” She said secularism also doesn’t mean appeasing one section of the society and suppressing the other.
Well aware of how previous initiatives have fell flat, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar said, “You know while getting together one or the other leader gets lost. I am talking of whatever unity is possible, maximum possible.” Yet Kumar’s presence was significant in itself as he found himself in company he had abandoned for more than a decade and a half when JD(U) had been ally of the BJP. His rejoining likely third front constituents has made BJP’s task all that much tougher.

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