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India: Secular front as an alternative

, February 9, 2014, 0 Comments

India Secular Front-MarketExpressThe possibility of a Secular Front emerging which will be composed of regional parties has become more concrete in recent days. This grouping could include JDU, AIADMK, SP, TMC, BJD, AGP, NC, INLD, JVM, NCP, JDS, SAD, TDP and several others. If such a grouping emerges at the national level it is going to be a very powerful one.

BSP and SP cannot be on the same side of the fence at election time. Hence SP is likely to be in the Secular Front and BSP may continue as an ally of the Congress. Similarly, AIADMK and DMK cannot be together. Jayalalitha could join the Secular Front and DMK might again come to an understanding with the Congress on fighting elections. TMC and the Left don’t see eye to eye.

So only one among these two will join the Secular Front the other will have to fight it alone in the elections. Most likely it will be the TMC, which is likely to get more seats than the Left, which will find a place in the Secular Front.

BJD of Orissa, National Conference of J&K, AGP of Assam, JDS of Karnataka and INLD of Haryana could join the Secular Front. Sharad Pawar may decide to pull his party out of UPA and join the secular grouping after the election results are declared. SAD of Punjab may also join the Secular Front after the elections and TDP of Andhra Pradesh may follow suit. The Secular Front is going to emerge as an overarching grouping at the national level.

What will happen to UPA and NDA in this scenario? Both will disintegrate. BJP will suffer a bigger blow than the Congress. Its allies such as the SAD will join the Secular Front. For Congress the blow could be a little less severe. BSP and DMK may opt to continue as allies. Though UPA may not remain intact, Congress may have the support of some of its old allies.

Under such a scenario let us try to visualize what will be the outcome of the elections. The Secular Front will have emerged as a powerful force and, if all goes well for the grouping, it will be in a position to emerge as the largest grouping in the Lok Sabha. The Secular Front may be able to win a total of about 200 seats which will provide it with a strong bargaining power when it comes to the question of government formation. The depleted NDA would have become very frail and may be able to garner only about 180 seats. The Congress and its allies may have to be contended with winning only 120 seats. The Aam Admi Party may have a national tally of only about 10 seats.

The Secular Front will not be able to form a government on its own. Having been founded as a secular front with the objective of fighting communalism it will not be in a position to seek the support of BJP or NDA. Thus the Congress Party or the UPA will have to extend support from outside to enable the Secular Front to form a government.

The Congress will not agree to join the government without its leader becoming PM which will not be a proposition acceptable to the Secular Front. Thus the only workable alternative will be for the Congress to provide support from outside. In short the Delhi model may be replayed at the central level as well.

The possibility of NDA forming a government is slim. This is because the chances of NDA winning more seats will recede due to the impact of the emergence of AAP and also with the Secular Front emerging as a credible alternative which is in a position to form government. When the opinion polls whose results are now available were conducted the alternatives posed to the voters were only UPA and NDA.

Now with the Secular Front emerging as a strong contender there will be a considerable decline in the voters who opt for the larger parties and improvement in the tally of the regional players. It also needs to be noted that the leadership of BJP is such that the possibility of NDA attracting more allies is very limited.

All talk of Modi versus Rahul in the PM race will disappear into thin air. At the same time the Secular Front will have difficulty finding a PM candidate. The contenders will include Jayalalitha, Nitish, Mulayam, Mamta and so on. One of the leaders of the party which emerges as the most successful in the elections may nominate its leader as PM. This could be Jayalalitha, Nitish, Mulayam or Mamta. Alternatively a least controversial and less assuming leader like Naveen Patnaik could emerge as the consensus candidate. Such a leader will be more acceptable to the Congress Party as well which may oppose more powerful leaders as a possible PM.

How will such a Secular Front government which forms a government with outside support fare in the matter of governance. Here the results will be mixed. On the non-economic side the front may be able to achieve commendable results. But on the economic side the driving force of the front is likely to be populism and as the days go by, the nation will be moving closer and closer to an economic calamity.

Finally, when the front completes its full term a full blown out economic crisis would have emerged. Perhaps at this stage the Indian public may once again demand the services of the Congress Party to tide over the mess the Indian economy would have got into.