The dreaded illusion of a third front or federal front is once more being resurrected. The mercurial Mamata Banerjee, who has of late started chasing her pipe dream of becoming Prime Minister, is one of the leading lights of this effort. So strong is this urge that Mamata was busy spicing an uncooked anti-Modi front broth in Delhi on March 25, while parts of her state burnt, with her party lumpens and Islamist thugs bludgeoning Hindus who had dared to celebrate the sacred occasion of Ram Navami or had displayed the gumption to chant Ram’s name.
While her state burnt, while her police watched, while her certified lumpens fanned the fires of conflict, Mamata Banerjee tangoed in Delhi with those who, for their own reasons, saw it expedient to push her to chase the mirage of a federal front. Confined to a single state, with growing dissension within her party because of her uncontrolled obsession to politically establish her nephew—Abhishek Banerjee—as the leader of her party and of the state, with increasingly violent factional clashes within the party, Mamata is trying to aim too high rather than trying to salvage the situation nearer home. Her dreams of leading a front will eventually crash. The TMC too will face an existential challenge from within, with factions and powerful syndicates clashing among themselves.
The Opposition in Indian politics today is an Opposition, as one Congressman in a moment of rare candidness pointed out, that is plagued by many narratives. What was left unsaid was that, in the months to come these many narratives will often clash and jostle for space. Over the last three decades, all efforts at creating a third alternative in Indian politics have mostly been momentary efforts, prodded by individual ambition and bereft of policy, of direction and of leaders. The present effort too has too many leadership claimants, many conflicting policies, clashing ambitions and nebulous and half-created narratives which can never challenge the refreshing, cohesive and positive narrative that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has put in place in the last four years. Modi remains steadfast and unmoved in his determination to make the New India narrative triumph.
However, among the parties that are now struggling to create an anti-Modi front, driven by blind and irrational anti-Modism, there appears to be a clear trust deficit. This is evident when one tries to press these parties and their leaders to clearly articulate their alternative for India and to name the leader of this alternative. Two things clearly emerge out of this directionless churning, one, that these leaders have nothing to offer except blind opposition and hatred of Modi and two, that the Congress and its aimless president is certainly not seen as the pole or leader of this conglomeration. Rahul Gandhi is not acceptable to a wide array of these leaders. It is clear that they don’t see him as their leader.
The Communist parties cannot support a Mamata Banerjee-led federal front; they have no steam left to try and build up something on their own—with a shrinking base even in their last remaining corners, grappling with an existential crisis, they are in no position to think of something grand. Their only dominant ideological debate now is whether they will append themselves to the Congress.
Till then, they continue to retain a certain nuisance value by extending their support for elements that are working to create caste conflagrations, institutional instability and internal chaos. Indian Communists today are the proverbial fifth columnists, acting as fronts of these subversive elements and doing dirty work for parties like the Congress. With each week seeing many a confusing narrative popping up, the summer of 2018 shall prove to be an entertaining one.
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