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Non-Congress opposition unity faces too many hindrances but Sharad Pawar can be expected to keep trying

The “Rashtriya Manch” meeting to which non-BJP, non-Congress leaders and other prominent individuals have been invited could mark an early attempt to cobble a third front. The idea of a third front has been a non-starter ever since the decline of the Janata Dal as a national presence, and its fracturing into several regional parties. But ambitious CMs like Mamata Banerjee and K Chandrashekar Rao have talked up the idea in the run-up to Lok Sabha elections, only to find little traction for their efforts.

Read also: Sharad Pawar, Yashwant Sinha call meet to put up united opposition

If the Sharad Pawar-Yashwant Sinha-led confabulations do make headway, it would mark a definitive change in the political landscape. The next Lok Sabha elections are another 33 months away. But the country is missing a solid national opposition. Regional parties putting up some kind of unity at the national level looks improbable now, given that their governments need to work with the Centre.

Even poll strategist Prashant Kishor, who had a meeting with Pawar, is reportedly cool to the idea of a third or fourth front. Given BJP’s single party dominance and the bipolar Congress-BJP politics in a dozen or so states, regional parties are too scattered to be seen as a credible national alternative. Since Ahmed Patel’s demise, the Gandhi family has been isolated further from the larger opposition spectrum.

In this scenario, Pawar and Sinha appear to have decided that someone must take the initiative for broadening opposition unity given Congress’s comatose condition. But if a critical mass of non-Congress parties do show interest, their next challenge would be to rope in Congress and resolve the militating interests of Congress and regional parties. But having stunned BJP with the Maha Vikas Aghadi, Pawar’s consummate talents in the art of coalition building will be watched keenly in the months ahead.



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