Rakhi Chakrabarty, Hardnews, Delhi
The Third Front or, rather, the third force was formally launched in Karnataka on Thursday. Besides the Left parties, JD (S), TDP, TRS, BSP and AIADMK were present at a rally held to "officially launch the Third Front".
The rally was described by the Front leaders as a coming together of democratic, secular and Left parties to give the country a non-Congress and non-BJP alternative.
At the rally, BSP chief Mayawati and AIADMK supreme Jayalalitha were conspicuous by their absence. They had, of course, sent their representative.
Third Front leaders, however, made light of the apprehension that Mayawati and Jayalalitha were fence-sitters. CPI leader AB Bardhan rubbished this concern as a media creation. He was confident that both were very much part of the Third Front.
However, Front would be strengthened if Naveen Patnaik's BJD joined in. He is not with the Congress and has left the BJP. So, Third Front leaders are pinning their hopes on getting him in the fold. After all, it was BJD's divorce with the BJP in Orissa that revived the Third Front like a phoenix from the ashes.
In February, Left leaders had told Hardnews that they expected more parties to join the third alternative post-poll. In Karnataka, Bardhan reiterated this saying that time was ripe for a non-Congress, non-BJP alternative. Congress rubbished the third front as a fiction.
Hardnews learns that the front has some more backers- a few will show up in the next few weeks and others who will reveal themselves after the elections to help it form the government. Names of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar are expected to show their hand in the coming days. There is a growing realization in political circles that the two main formations led by the BJP and the Congress are incapable of forming the government on their own and would need the support of some of the parties of the third front to prove their majority. However, if the third front sticks together and does not fall apart then it will be impossible for anyone to form the government- so wonderfully hung the parliament is threatening to be in May 2009.