With just two minor phases of the Lok Sabha election remaining, leaders of opposition parties have begun moves to forge a possible post-poll alliance should the NDA fall short of a majority. There are as many as 21 parties that are potentially members of this grouping, even though they could not come together for a pre-poll arrangement. Many are contesting against each other across India. In many cases, the Congress is a direct rival against regional outfits, such as in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Rahul Gandhi’s decision to contest from Kerala has not gone down well with the Communists, who feel that he somehow has lost sight of the larger objective.
There are parties hoping for the ‘third front’ to get a substantial number of seats that would make it possible for them to be the ‘kingmakers’ at the Centre. It is not clear, though, how this would be done, because it would imply extending support to the prime ministerial candidates of the two national parties. As for putting up its own candidate for the top job, there would be the small problem of deciding who it would be. Chandrababu Naidu, Mayawati, even Mamata Banerjee, believe they could have a go, particularly as conditions in their parent states do not promise a much longer innings. Delhi’s Arvind Kejriwal would love to be considered but the Congress has put paid to any chances of him benefiting from the anti-Modi forces.
Of course, there are components of the desired alliance that would have no qualms about supporting the BJP, with some face-saving ‘common minimum programme’ protocols. These would be the ones with a more stable regional support, such as Telangana CM K Chandrashekhar Rao, who has been just as active as Chandrababu Naidu in seeking tie-ups with others for power in New Delhi.
A major problem with supporting the Congress would, of course, be the giveaways promised by the party, which would bankrupt the system. As it is, the Indian economy and strategic position, internationally, would take a major hit should Modi be removed from the scene. The jitters being felt by the stock market, at the present, indicate the nervousness there is among businessmen about a Modi-less future. Also, in the longer run, propping up the Congress dynasty, even indirectly, would spell the death knell for many of the other parties vying for the same section of voters. So, they might be making the moves to stay ahead of the game, but many will be secretly hoping that the opportunity doesn’t actually come and they can stay ensconced in the present relatively stable balance of power.