The political fallout

Has the Centre’s poorly-timed proposal to operationalise the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) unwittingly spawned the idea of a new political front?

The seeds of a non-UPA-NDA-Left alliance may well have been sown but what shape it will take remains to be seen. The chief ministers – Trinamool Congress’ Mamata Banerjee (West Bengal), Biju Janata Dal’s Naveen Patnaik (Odisha), AIADMK’s J Jayalalitha (Tamil Nadu) and Telugu Desam leader and former chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu (Andhra Pradesh) are increasingly seen to be making efforts to come together on a common platform.

If they are joined by Janata Dal’s (United) Nitish Kumar (Bihar) and the Asom Gana Parishad, the “need for a new, transparent, honest and anti-communal front”, in the words of Patnaik, would get bolstered.

As of now, it is difficult to foresee Nitish Kumar, who runs his government with the support of BJP and whose backing is vital to his electoral fortunes, joining this front.  But, what might happen from now on till first half of 2014 when Lok Sabha polls are due is obviously difficult to predict.

Four parties – Trinamool, BJD, TDP and AIADMK have the power to win on their own, without joining hands with other parties, in their respective states. These four states send a total of 144 MPs (WB-42, AP-42, TN-39 and Odisha-21) to LS, thus forming a powerful bloc in the coalition. If Nitish and AGP, indeed, join this front, it could turn out (Bihar-40, Assam-14) to be an even more powerful bloc as these states together would be represented by a total of 198 MPs - more than 40 per cent of 543 members in the Lower House.

Non-BJP & secular

As they are for a secular front, these parties, especially the TMC, BJD and TDP, opt for a non-BJP front. BJP has no say in any of these states – the party got no seats in WB, TN, AP or Odisha in the 2009 LS polls. In Odisha and AP, the common rival is Congress. With Mamata onboard, the Left cannot be part of the group. TMC, BJD, TDP and AIADMK together won 48 seats in 2009 and have the potential to win more in 2014.

However, much will depend on the outcome of the ongoing Uttar Pradesh elections. If Congress does well and wins some 100 odd seats or close to this mark, talk of a  new front may slowdown. If not, this proposed front may become a talking point.

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