he "smaller" regional parties are not keen on any alliance ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. They want to keep their options open in the event of a hung Parliament after the 2014 general elections. These parties are also cold to the "Third Front" idea floated by Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, terming it a "misnomer".
The SP has already identified its candidates for the 80 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh. Though the party supports the UPA government from the outside, it is in no mood to have any electoral understanding with it. Similar is the case with Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), which is maintaining equidistance from both the UPA and the NDA, though her party supports the Manmohan Singh government from outside.
Senior Biju Janata Dal (BJD) leader and Lok Sabha MP Bhartruhari Mahtab made it clear that their Orissa-based party will not go for any pre-poll alliance, although he evaded queries about a post-poll alliance. "As of now, our position is that we are maintaining an equal distance from both the BJP and the Congress. This has been our stand since the 2009 Lok Sabha elections. To talk about any alliance after the elections is hypothetical," Mahtab said. However, on the question of whether the BJD will be a part of the Third Front he said: "Third Front is a misnomer. Let us see how it unfolds."
In the last one year, two parties, Trinamool Congress and DMK, have deserted the ruling UPA. Both parties have expressed their intentions to contest the elections on their own. However, they appear to be keeping their options open for a post-poll alliance.
Senior DMK leader and Lok Sabha MP Adhi Shankar said there was no question of any pre-poll alliance with the Congress, as of now. "At the moment, we are opposing the UPA government on issues like price rise, Tamils, etc." He, however, parried questions on the possibility of a post-poll understanding with any group, clearly indicating the DMK's "wait and watch" strategy. Similar is the case with the AIADMK, which is maintaining a distance from both the BJP and the Congress and have "pledged" to work hard and win all 39 seats from Tamil Nadu.
The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), which is extending outside support to the UPA government, is, however, keen to contest the elections in alliance with the UPA. But it is also ready to go it alone in case the alliance does not work out in Bihar. RJD's Rajya Sabha member Ram Kripal Yadav said, "We would like the Congress to contest the elections in alliance with the RJD. But as it happened in the last elections, we are ready to contest all the seats on our own."
"We would not like a division in the secular vote. If the Congress too wants the same, they should contest in alliance with the RJD. In any case, the Congress is not a force in Bihar as was evident from the last byelections at Kalyanpur and Siwan," he added. The RJD contested the last elections separately, but decided to support the UPA after the elections. The party may repeat the same strategy in case a pre-poll alliance does not materialise.