As many as 11 political parties, including the Samajwadi Party, Janata Dal (United) and Communist Party of India (Marxist), have joined hands to form a Third Front, in an alliance which seeks to position itself as the third alternative to the ruling Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

The leaders of these parties called a meeting at Tripura Bhavan in Delhi on Tuesday, the largest gathering of the coalition-in-the-making.

The general election is slated to be held by April-May and an announcement on the schedule is expected to be made by next week.

“It is time for a change and to throw out the Congress from power...There has to be an alternative to the Congress and the BJP—an alternative which has a democratic, secular, federal and pro-people development agenda,” the parties said in a joint declaration.

These eleven parties together have around 92 seats in the current Lok Sabha and represents states which account for 298 seats, or over half of the parliament. What complicates the poll maths for these political outfits is that almost all of them are regional parties and only if they win all seats in their own states, a far-fetched scenario, they can think of crossing the majority seat mark required to run the government. 

All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK); the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik); All India Forward Bloc; Revolutionary Socialist Party, Janata Dal (Secular), Assam Gana Parishad (AGP) and Biju Janata Dal (BJD) are among the 11 parties that came together to form third front. 

Some of these parties such as Janata Dal (United) and BJD were previously part of NDA. Interestingly, representatives of AGP and BJD were not present in the meeting on Tuesday.

Leaders of some of these parties like AIADMK’s J Jayalalithaa, Samajwadi Party’s Mulayam Singh Yadav and JD (U)’s Nitish Kumar are said to be nursing ambitions of becoming the next prime minister.

While the idea of a ‘third front’ is not new and such an alliance had previously also led the country in the 90s under a short stint, the alliance—if it sticks post-elections—could affect plans of NDA, if it indeed emerges as the top coalition, as suggested by the polls.

It is to be seen if all the parties in this alliance remain together or some of them break away to join NDA after the elections.

Some parties like Ram Vilas Paswan-led Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) has kept its options open, even as there are rumours of the party looking at an alliance with BJP-led NDA as an alternative to its proposed partnership with Congress or RJD.

(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)

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