A veteran journalist described it as the Deve Gowda syndrome. He was referring to Telangana chief minister, K. Chandrashekhar Rao’s attempt to stitch up a coalition which is not aligned to either of the two principal parties at the Centre, BJP or Congress. There is a significant difference though. While Deve Gowda was pitch forked to the national political theatre as prime minister, KCR’s moves are more carefully crafted.
KCR is well aware of the fact that the BJP in particular is a strong political force nationally. As the results of the three states in the north Rajasthan, MP and Chhattisgarh proved recently, the Congress is no pushover and is primed to take its tally beyond a hundred seats this time around from the paltry 44 it notched up in 2014. Bringing on board other regional players is no easy task, but KCR has taken on the challenge.
The TRS supremo has set the process in motion right after his party's landslide victory in the recently concluded elections. While he seems to have met with limited success so far, it will be premature to write his efforts off. Observers have pointed out that neither Naveen Patnaik nor Mamata Banerjee appeared to be very enthusiastic about KCR's front. They say that Akhilesh and Mayawati, similarly, may worry more about the likely erosion any alignment could cause to their voter base.
It is unlikely that any major player would make his move before the results of the 2019 elections are out. Be it Mamata or Mayawati, Akhilesh or Naveen Patnaik, for now all of them seem to be playing the waiting game. They know that KCR is a powerful regional leader who will be backed by good numbers from his state in terms of Lok Sabha MPs. But they appear to think that it is too premature to make their moves. So, how can KCR's dream of cobbling a nationwide coalition of regional parties be shaped into a reality in 2019? For all these like-minded political leaders to come together on one platform, they would have to agree on a Numero Uno. This would be the first major hurdle which he would have to get past. Would he be prepared to step back and let a Mamata or a Mayawati to lead the third front? This does not seem a very strong possibility as of now and also in light of KCR's own preference, since he is the first who's taking the initiative.
Needless to say, for KCR’s front to be a potent political force in the post-election scenario, it would have to notch up more than a hundred seats to have any sort of leverage in the formation of a new government at the Centre. As things stand, most surveys predict a 220-250 figure for the BJP. Is this a realistic assessment is anyone’s guess. What is its strength dips further. Conversely, the Congress would grow in numbers and either of them who move towards pitching their claims for a new government at the Centre would have to lean on KCR’s front led either by him or by Mayawati/Mamata. It is unlikely therefore that the Deve Gowda experiment would repeat itself on national stage once again with a smaller group propped up by a bigger national party. In other words, the amplification of the current Karnataka experiment is a rather far-fetched idea at the moment.
If such a government were to come to power in Delhi, it would be completely at the mercy of the larger group which would be supporting it either by being a part of the government or from outside. In other words, its shelf life as a government would be short.