Pappu-SP-NCP's third front another worry for Bihar's grand alliance
- Expelled RJD leader Pappu Yadav, Mulayam\'s SP and the NCP have formed a third front in Bihar
- Pappu\'s Jan Adhikaar Party is set to contest 64 seats, while the SP and NCP are to contest 89 and 40 respectively
Its possible effect
- While the third front may not win many seats, it has the grand alliance sweating
- All three of its constituents have secular credentials
- If they can grab a chunk of the grand alliance\'s traditional vote bank, it could help the NDA win the polls
First, it was Asaduddin Owaisi's AIMIM. Now, Bihar's grand alliance has a bigger headache in the form of two parties it 'scorned' and a strongman the RJD expelled.
Mulayam Singh Yadav's Samajwadi Party and Sharad Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party have now joined hands with Rajesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav to form a third front, which could eat into the grand alliance's expected vote share.
The third front has already hit upon its seat sharing formula. While Pappu Yadav's Jan Adhikaar Party will contest 64 seats, the NCP, with Tariq Anwar as its face in Bihar, will contest 40 seats. The SP has kept 89 seats for itself.
How the alliance took shape
Pappu Yadav had been in talks with the BJP to become part of the NDA. He had also met PM Narendra Modi, and was widely viewed as the potential Yadav face of the NDA.
However, this fell through, and he was left battling for political survival, till he spotted the chance to forge an alliance with the SP and the NCP.
The NCP was offered three seats by the grand alliance, which features Nitish Kumar's JD(U), Lalu Prasad Yadav's RJD and the Congress. Anwar refused to be in the alliance for such a pittance, and left.
The seats were then offered to the Samajwadi Party. As part of the alliance, the SP participated in the grand alliance's Swabhiman Rally in Patna last month and shared the stage with Nitish, Lalu and Sonia Gandhi.
However, just a couple of days later, Mulayam pulled out of the alliance, citing betrayal and calling the small share of seats an insult.
All three partners in the third front are seen as 'secular'. With two Yadavs and a Muslim as the leaders, experts believe they could get some votes in communities that have traditionally supported the JD(U) and, particularly, the RJD.
A JD(U) leader told Catch on the condition of anonymity: "The BJP is targeting the M-Y vote bank of Lalu Prasad. These people are playing into the BJP's hands. But the people of the state are wise enough and are not going to vote for them."
Pappu Yadav's JAP is set to contest on 64 seats, the NCP on 40 and the Samajwadi Party on 89 seats
But Pappu Yadav is undeterred. He says he will expose the failures of Nitish's 10 years in power.
"What has Nitish done in these 10 years? People should know the truth. There is an anti-incumbency factor against Nitish's government. People are disappointed. We will go to people and ask them to vote for our alliance," he told Catch.
Lalu's RJD is the strongest party in the grand alliance - even senior leaders in the BJP accept that he is their biggest worry.
But, with the entry of Owaisi's AIMIM and now the third front, it's clear that other players are actually targeting the RJD's vote bank.
Rebels boost Pappu
For the grand alliance, another major concern would be that people who haven't been given tickets could now turn rebel and knock on others' doors to take revenge on their own parties.
Pappu Yadav's Jan Adhikaar Party is a prime contender as a new home for these rebels, and long queues outside his office are a big indication that this may come true.
Sources suggest that though the seat distribution in the third front is final, Pappu is hoping for more seats. Considering his popularity among ticket seekers, he might end up getting a bigger seat share in the third front.
The long and short of it is that this third front may not win much in terms of the number of seats it can actually win. But it has the potential to grab a share of the secular vote, which, in an election expected to be very close, could actually end up assisting the NDA and working against the grand alliance.