Lok Sabha elections: Are parties switching sides to form government eternal opportunists or masters of alliances?

Thursday, 8 May 2014 - 4:38pm IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA

The general elections are almost over, and results due in a week. While it is widely believed that the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is all set to form the next government at the Centre, one cannot deny the possibility of a Third Front government, with outside support from the Congress. 

In this article we talk about some of the political parties and leaders that are likely to be a part of the next government, irrespective of the coalition that comes to power, be it the NDA, the UPA or the Third Front. Over the past 25 years, these parties and their leaders have been a part of various fronts, and there is no reason to believe they won’t alter their current stance to be part of the next government. Let us take a look at some of them

Ram Vilas Paswan/Lok Janshakti Party (LJP): Ram Vilas Paswan abandoning his ‘secular’ ideology and jumping on to the Narendra Modi bandwagon was hardly a surprise to those who have followed Paswan and his politics. Despite being the leader of a small regional party, he has served as a Union minister under five different prime ministers, and holds the distinction of being part of all national coalitions formed in the last 25 years (the National Front, the United Front, the NDA, and the UPA). He has been a part of all governments formed between 1996 and 2009, and he missed a ministerial post in 2009 only when his party failed to secure a single seat in the Lok Sabha.

Ajit Singh/Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD): Ajit Singh is another politician who is very good at moulding his stance and join different alliances. He has been a part of the National Front, the NDA, and the UPA. He has served as a Union minister under four different prime ministers, including VP Singh, PV Narsimha Rao, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and Manmohan Singh.

Jammu & Kashmir National Conference (JKNC): National Conference (NC) has been a part of all three national coalitions formed since 1996. Saifuddin Soz (currently the president of the J&K State Congress Committee) served as a Union minister in the United Front, Omar Abdullah in the NDA, and Farooq Abdullah is currently a minister in the UPA.

Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM): The JMM has been a part of the National Font, the NDA, and the UPA. It joined the National Front in 1991, but over the past two decades it has done business with both the Congress and the BJP, depending upon the developments at the Centre, as well as in the state of Jharkhand.

In this general election, LJP has a pre-poll alliance with the BJP, whereas the RLD, JKNC, and the JMM have a pre-poll alliance with the Congress. However, very few people would be surprised if, based on the outcome of the general elections, these parties decide to cross the aisle and forge new alliances.

Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK): The DMK is the only political party that has been a part of all national coalitions formed in the last 25 years, just like RLD leader Ram Vilas Paswan. In this election, the DMK has tried to remain equidistant from both the UPA and the NDA. This is the first time since 1957 that the party is contesting without a pre-poll alliance. However, based on the historical trend, it is all but certain that DMK will try its best to be a part of the ruling coalition.

All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK): In previous general elections, the AIADMK has allied with the Congress, the BJP, and the Third Front on multiple occasions. However, the only government it was a part of was the NDA government 1998-99. This time, AIADMK is contesting the general election on its own, with the aim of securing the prime ministership for its chief Jayalalithaa, in case a Third-Front government is formed at the Centre. However, in the event that Jayalalithaa fails to become PM, the AIADMK could support any coalition that offers the best bargain.

All India Trinamool Congress (AITMC): The AITMC was formed in January 1998 and was an ally of NDA till 2007. It joined the UPA in 2009, and was a member till September 2012, when it walked out of the coalition demanding the rollback of FDI in retail. AIMTC is contesting the 2014 general election on its own. It is widely believed that it would stay out of both NDA and UPA, particularly the NDA, as allying with the Modi-led BJP might hurt its chances in the next assembly elections in West Bengal, which has a sizeable Muslim population. Although conventional wisdom suggests the AITMC would only join a Third Front government, it is hard to predict how Mamata Banerjee would act on a particular day.

Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS): The TRS was formed in 2001, when K Chandrashekar Rao parted ways from the Telugu Desam Party (TDP). It entered a pre-poll alliance with the Congress in 2004, and remained part of the central government till September 2006, when it walked away due to differences over the proposed statehood of Telangana. Prior to the 2009 general elections, the party announced it would be a part of the ‘Grand Alliance’ formed by the Third Front parties. However, after the elections were over, and before the votes were counted, it joined the NDA. Its partnership with the NDA did not last long either. TRS left the coalition soon after the results were announced. It had earlier stated it would merge with the Congress once Telangana was granted statehood. However, the party backtracked from that stance once the state was carved out. In this election, TRS is contesting without any pre-poll alliance, and is expected to do well.

The YSR Congress is another party of interest, and the fact that they do not carry any baggage from past alliances gives them more room to manoeuvre.

No matter which coalition comes to power this year, it would be really interesting to see the stance taken by these parties. In the past these parties have not let ideology come in the way of obtaining power, and there is no reason for things to change now.


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