Too much attention is being paid to the two alliances in Bihar, with most assuming either alliance winning majority, depending on which side of the camp one is. But a low profile Third Front is lurking on the sidelines waiting for its moment in the sun, and that day it is hoping will be 8 Nov.
When Mulayam Singh confidently walked off in a huff leaving the Mahagathbandhan in the lurch, he perhaps overestimated his influence in Bihar politics. This is borne out by the fact that when he cobbled up the Third Front, he decided to fight in all 243 assembly seats. So what was his thinking back then?
Mulayam Singh needs to be relevant, at least in parts of Bihar as U.P. comes up for elections in early 2017 and he faces anti-incumbency there, with a resurgent BJP and a sulking BSP waiting in the wings to take him on. In the months leading up to the polls in Bihar, he read the winds to be in favour of the BJP, which perhaps was the case. He calculated that if he were to get on the BJP’s side without overtly supporting it, he could build bridges with the party for an alliance in U.P in 2017.
This probably was the real reason why he chose to walk out of the Mahagathbandhan and using seat sharing as an excuse. With 2017 coming up, he is facing anti-incumbency and has the CBI holding the Damocles Sword over his head over earlier charges against him. He knows an alliance with the BJP will keep him in power and also keep the CBI at bay, but if the BJP remains in opposition, then the collective weight of anti-incumbency and the power of BJP together, may well show him the door.
Coming back to Bihar, the situation since his departure from the Mahagathbandhan has changed. Third Front’s main alliance partner NCP has walked out, leaving smaller and insignificant partners lending shoulder to it. Mulayam has realized that his gamble has failed and there is no way the Third Front is going to come anyway near the numbers that he had hoped for when he grandly announced contesting all 243 seats.
So, where does that leave the Third Front today? The next two rounds of polling is taking place in the border regions with U.P. and there may be some cross border impact of the S.P though unlikely to be a major factor. It has to merely sit and wait for the poll outcome on 8 November. If either alliance gets a clear majority, the Third Front gets relegated to political insignificance and Mulayam loses any bargaining opportunity. But if it’s a close contest with neither alliance getting a majority, then the Third Front will come into play.
This is the moment that the controversial MP and leader of Rashtriya Janadhikar Party and NDA alliance partner Pappu Yadav was referring to when he grandly made the remark saying that the Third Front would be kingmaker. And he is probably correct, but only if it’s a close call with neither alliance able to form a government on their own.
Even if the Third Front helps form the government, it will have little influence in local politics if Mahagathbandhan succeeds in forming the government, but if their support is required for the NDA to form a government, then Mulayam may still end up coming out the winner, for he would have set the stage for the 2017 polls in U.P with a bargaining chip.
Let’s wait till 8 November to know how true Pappu Yadav’s claim to being a kingmaker turns out.
First Dadri, and now Faridabad may have nailed BJP’s chances
BJP has been facing a tough situation in trying to handle the political consequences of Dadri, and now Faridabad, but the real price to pay will be in Bihar. BJP was on the front foot when it first broke campaigning ground in Bihar but its response to the Dadri killing was both slow and inadequate and in the process damaging the party’s chances in Bihar. From a position of optimism it has now been forced to be on the defensive. With three rounds of polling still to go, Faridabad couldn’t have happened at a worse time.
This time, however, the party was quick to respond by instructing the Haryana CM ML Khattar to crack the whip, as a result, the accused have been arrested and the case has been swiftly handed over to the CBI. But the damage has been done. Had BJP been swift in condemning the Dadri killing with the PM coming out aggressively against the attack, it could have swung the momentum in their favour in Bihar. But Narendra Modi is bound by his own party compulsions and those of its mentor the RSS, and now, there it is struggling to make a fight in Bihar.
BJP was banking on LJP and RLSP to deliver the OBC-EBC and Dalit votes but Faridabad has put its alliance partners in a quandary since BJP is ruling Haryana and are also the alliance partners in Bihar.
If LJP and RLSP keep quiet, they lose their own constituency and if they speak out, they hurt the alliance further. Ram Vilas Paswan has been forced to speak out against the incident and blamed BJP in the state. The opposition in Bihar is sure to pick this up as a rallying point against the NDA. Upendra Kushwaha on the other hand has remained silent on the issue so far and this will definitely go against his party and NDA.
20 October and 1 November will prove a tough one for the NDA.
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