New Delhi: A non-Congress and non-BJP alternative is back ahead of the general elections. Leaders of at least 11 political parties on Tuesday resolved to fight the Lok Sabha elections unitedly against Congress and the BJP with CPIM General Secretary Prakash Karat, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar sharing the stage.
Even as the Third Front manages to grab many eyeballs, the sustainability of this bandwagon of regional parties and Left Front remains to be seen.
Most of these regional parties do not encroach upon one another's territory, so broad understanding amongst them before elections is quite possible but only time will tell if they will stick together post poll to provide stability at the Centre.
This is not the first time that an alternative to the two dominant parties have taken shape. The previous experiences of a 'Third Front' have not been very encouraging.
In 1977, Morarji Desai-led Janata Party was a conglomerate of all regional players. Even the BJP's earlier avatar had merged with it and the Left supported this government from outside. But the government did not last its full term.
In 1989, regional parties again got together to anoint VP Singh as PM. His government lasted just 11 months with Chandrashekhar breaking away to claim the top post with Congress support.
Even the two experiments between 1996 to 1998 with HD Deve Gowda and IK Gujral led governments could not last their full term.
This 11-party fold which has challenged to throw out both the BJP and Congress is likely to see many more entrants in the coming days as Samajwadi Party suremo Mulayam Singh said, "The number of parties in the Third Front can go up to 15 from 11."
From Nitish Kumar to Mulayam Singh to Deve Gowda and J Jayalalithaa's AIADMK, the ginger group is being held together once again by the Left Front with CPIM taking the lead. But the dampner on Day 1 was the absence of Biju Janata Dal and Asom Gana Parishad representatives in the crucial meet.
Karat, however, assured that the two were a part of the fold and could not make it to the meeting due to some reasons.
"We have been in consultations with them. They have told us they are with us. I told you about Mahanta's problem and he told us please go ahead, we are with you," said Karat.
The final contours of the Third Front or a federal front will take shape only after elections results. The say a party will have in this group will depend on the numbers it manages in the elections.