No third front will ever be of significance in Indian politics and it has been proved again, this time by Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief Mamata Banerjee. The maverick West Bengal chief minister, who has had serious differences with the Congress and pulled out of the UPA last September, unexpectedly threw her weight behind the ruling alliance on the Sri Lanka issue. The DMK, the second-largest ally in the UPA after the TMC's pull-out, withdrew support from the Congress-led alliance on the Lanka issue on Tuesday, putting its survival under serious threat.
Banerjee's U-turn is obvious
But why suddenly this U-turn by Banerjee? The general observation was that the TMC chief would be happy with the latest development and expect the UPA government crumble soon so that the country goes to mid-term polls and she gets to an opportunity to join the new dispensation in New Delhi. Her party had even moved a no-confidence motion against the government after the withdrawal which fell flat and time and again, the TMC supremo has been heard saying that the UPA government has lost the moral authority to rule.
But Banerjee knows very well that politics isn't a static discipline. No matter how much she roars against the Centre, the TMC leader is aware that she is just another regional force at the end of the day. The divorce with the Congress at the national and state level has not paid off for her and it has been at the recent by-polls in Bengal.
Mamata Banerjee has learnt her lesson
Banerjee hasn't been able to storm Congress bastions of Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and the Mukherjees and could manage English Bazaar with the help of a former Congress leader. The leader's own mass following has also been hit, which was visible during her recent rally in West Midnapore district. The state has found a very little favour in this year's railway budget and the opposition has slammed the state government for making hollow promises to the people in all these years.
Banerjee has continued to make more promises ahead of this year's panchayat polls but the financial state is too fragile for her to back the execution of these projects. The media is targeting the administration on various issues and of late, the Congress top leadership is tilting towards the Left Front to forge a UPA I model in case the UPA III becomes a reality.
In this situation, it is getting tougher for the TMC to get things moving in its direction. Almost two years into the ruler's seat, Banerjee and her party has learnt that the ground underneath is slipping away fast. In this situation, the only realistic option for it is to move closer to the Centre for if mid-term polls are held now, the TMC will find it difficult to reap profits. The party has lost its popularity extremely fast, thanks to a disastrous running of the state administration.
An opportunity to beat Mulayam in the race for the most-trusted ally?
The unpredictable Mulayam Singh has also made Banerjee interested in making amends. It was Mulayam who had ditched Mamata before the presidential election last year and drew closer to the Centre at her expense and also bagged financial favour. In case the Samajwadi Party decides to toy with the Centre for its position has been strengthened after DMK's pull-out and prefer to go to early polls (before the anti-incumbency factor catches up with it in Uttar Pradesh) by trying to topple the UPA government, Banerjee might come into the rescue of the latter.
Congress will take the opportunity, also to corner the BJP more
The Congress has also revealed its intention of inching towards Nitish Kumar's JD(U) to win more allies to survive. Union minister Jairam Ramesh has cleared MGNREGA payments for Bihar and also promised the same for Bengal. Another minister Kamal Nath also called up Banerjee to discuss the Sri Lanka issue and the latter assured support to the government on international issues.
Don't regional parties understand their limitation?
Banerjee's latest stand proves that for the regional parties, international affairs are of concern till they serve their own interest. It was the same Banerjee who had objected to a river water-sharing between India and Bangladesh a couple of years ago. But on the question of human rights violation in Sri Lanka, she has a bigger interest to serve and that is her political survival. The same will be seen with the DMK once the post-poll alliance becomes the question of the day.
At the end of the day, it's either Congress or BJP
The regional parties try to harass a weakened Centre by means of a blackmailing politics but the point is that the end of the day, they never reach a position to call the shots by themselves. They will have to either support a national party in government formation or will need the latter's support in case they get an advantage of leading a government. But in any case, they are yet to replace the national parties to present a stable leadership.
Then why all the periodic aggressions which actually mean nothing?