With neither the NDA nor the UPA touching the magical halfway mark becoming a real possibility after three phases of Lok Sabha elections, six leaders from five states in North, East and South could emerge as the key players when the question of government formation arises. Between them, the six – Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati in UP, Mamata Banerjee in West Bengal, Naveen Patnaik in Odisha, K Chandrashekar Rao in Telangana and Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy in Andhra Pradesh – are expected to notch up at least 20% of the total seats.
That they are currently not part of the two big pre-poll alliances gives them the flexibility to call the shots. Going by current calculations, KCR and Jagan, between them, are likely to end up with 30-35 seats of the total 42 in the two states put together and both have dropped sufficient hints that they shall sail together insofar as their role in government formation at the Centre is concerned. Though unlikely to do a repeat of 2014 in Odisha, Naveen Patnaik might still end up with at least 14-15 of the total 21 seats in the bag.
Of the other two key states, Mamata may not suffer severe bruises though the BJP, by all accounts, is expected to perform better than in the past, but this could be at the expense of the Congress and the Left. According to political watchers, the TMC is more than likely to retain 34 out of the 42 seats or might just end up losing a couple of them in the worst-case scenario. In UP, the Maya plus Akhilesh combination is clearly seen as having the potential to win at least 40 out of the 82 seats, if not more.
In the event of a hung Parliament, (taking into account pre-poll allies), it throws the door open for all options depending on the NDA or the UPA’s final tally. There are tricky questions, though. Mamata may be open to taking support but whether she will extend support to even a UPA-led formation is doubtful. KCR and Jagan appear to be the ones to have kept all options open while Naveen Patnaik remains as unpredictable as always. In UP, having struck a pre-poll alliance, the natural expectation would be that the SP and the BSP together take whatever decision when the time comes, but there could be an outside chance of their drifting apart.
If the six are able to pick a leader from among themselves, the clout of this group will enhance significantly, but whether they will be able to manage that is unsure.Three scenarios emerge as of now (see box). Since many months, KCR has been openly advocating the need for a Federal Front, which has neither the BJP nor the Congress. He is said to be planning a tour to Delhi and some key states before the results are out to explore the scope for such a formation.
The numbers game
Parties led by Akhilesh Yadav, Mayawati, Mamata Banerjee, Naveen Patnaik, K Chandrashekar Rao and Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy taken together are expected to get at least 20% of the total LS seats in India. Can they build the chemistry to leverage the math advantage?
- Some among the six biggies going towards the NDA if it has the best chance to form new govt.
- All of them preferring to go with the UPA to keep the BJP “out of power” if the saffron group does not cross 200.
- All six forming a front and seeking support of one of the bigger parties, most likely Congress - a repeat of the 1990s scenario.