With Nitish moving towards Left, is BJP only option left for Mamata?

JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar has kept political observers on their toes. When a big section of analysts were predicting the Bihar chief minister to tilt towards the Congress after he dumped the BJP and his arch-rival Lalu Prasad was convicted and jailed in fodder scam, his party decided to form an alliance with the Left Front, Samajwadi Party Janata Dal (Secular) in the upcoming Rajasthan assembly elections. The alliance will be called United Front (Left and Democratic). In BJP-ruled Chhattisgarh also, Nitish's party will contest under a front of which the CPI is also a member.

On October 30, a national conclave of non-Congress and non-BJP parties will be held in New Delhi where the JD(U) will also be present. Sources in the party said it will work with full vigour towards bringing the non-Congress and non-BJP parties together.

Now, this has increased the interest about Nitish Kumar. Has he decided to make a pre-poll alliance with the Left after dumping the BJP? Is he not going the Congress's way? And if he is indeed going with the Left, then what about the much talked-about Federal Front featuring another powerful chief minister from East India, Mamata Banerjee? For she is certainly not going to join a front comprising the Left.

The strategic third front is not a viable option for Mamata Banerjee

Is Nitish Kumar not interested to take Banerjee on board? There is an explanation if he is indeed not ready to accommodate Banerjee. If we notice closely, the so-called Third Front which is taking shape comprises parties, with a soft exception of the CPI(M), which are not very distant from the Congress.

The CPI(M) is a soft exception for it was also with the Congress till 2008 when it committed a political harakiri despite objections from many of its leaders. The others, namely, the CPI and the Samajwadi Party have been with the Congress for a long period of time to keep the 'communal' forces at bay. By joining such a Congress-leaning front, the JD(U) is actually anchoring itself at a convenient position. It can overtly project itself as a third front leader and yet make a tacit understanding with the Congress. Banerjee, who is known for her strong anti-Congress views, doesn't fit into such scheme of things for sure.

This Third Front is basically a pre-poll arrangement to stop Narendra Modi from capturing the Delhi throne. For both the Left Front and Nitish Kumar, it is a strategic move.

But what now for Banerjee? After Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav's shocking betrayal last year before the presidential polls and now with Nitish Kumar joining hands with the Left, the TMC chief is fast running out of friends.

She had talks with the YSR Congress leadership a couple of times but that is not going to be sufficient for her party to play a major role in the national politics. She has a good relation with AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa, who again is know to be close to Modi.

Will Mamata Banerjee ultimately join the BJP to keep herself afloat? With surveys projecting her party getting over 20 seats in the next Lok Sabha polls, both the national parties will have an eye on her but given that she has just dumped the Congress, the BJP could have a better chance of winning her support.

For Banerjee, the decision won't be easy though.

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