By Ashna Paril
Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao, popularly known as KCR, floated the idea of a third front on the 4th of March, citing the incompetence of BJP and Congress. KCR claimed that the present political system has miserably failed and that he was ready to play an active role in bringing about change. “I am 64. If I can help bring the change and serve the country for few years, I will definitely do it.” He did not seem very bothered by BJP’s victory in the northeastern states, saying “you will have different results in different states.”
Good timing for a third front
KCR’s timing is impeccable—he is capitalising on the unease felt by many states about the powers vested in the centre. Tamil Nadu is resentful over getting fewer funds from the 14th finance commission, while Andhra Pradesh is resentful over having to beg the centre to get what it was promised under the AP Reorganisation Act, and Telangana is resentful over its fight to have the states given the right to decide on quotas.
KCR appears to work on the assumption that the anti-incumbency factor in many BJP-ruled states will give it an absolute majority in 2019, so a third front would be in a position to form the government at the Centre. Another reason behind this thinking is to draw attention away from the shortcomings of his own government. The TRS did exceptionally well in the 2014 elections and it is unlikely to have the same results four years later. “With a year to go for the next election, KCR has to go to the people with something,” remarked a senior BJP minister “We are all for a Third Front…We have always wanted one. After all, it helps us.”
Difficulties for any coalition
This confidence may be rather premature, however. Indeed, many experts recently have been arguing that Modi will not become the PM again if the BJP fails to get more than 230 seats in Lok Sabha elections next year. The central argument for this is that it will be hard for Modi to find allies. Frustrated with Congress, especially after its poor performance in the northeast, smaller parties would rather look to form alliances that may prove detrimental to BJP.
Third fronts have not worked in the country in the past. After the 2019 elections, assuming the BJP were to slide to only 200 seats and Congress fail to cross the 70 seat mark, a third front may theoretically be formed, but it would be very unlikely to survive for a long period due to internal conflicts. Leaders like Mamata Banerjee, who rushed to support the coalition, will not support KCR, as the leadership and ideologies of other parties, such as Asaduddin Owaisi and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, are likely to clash.