Third Front (India)
Third Front in Indian politics refers to various alliances formed by smaller parties at various points of time since 1989 to offer a third option to Indian voters, challenging the Indian National Congress and Bhartiya Janata Party.
National Front (1989–1991)
National Front (NF) was a coalition of political parties, led by the Janata Dal, which formed India's government between 1989 and 1990 under the leadership of N. T. Rama Rao as President and V. P. Singh as Convener. The coalition's prime minister was V. P. Singh later succeeded by Chandra Shekhar. The parties in the Front were: Janata Dal at national level, Telugu Desam Party of Andhra Pradesh, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam of Tamil Nadu, and Asom Gana Parishad of Assam and Indian Congress (Socialist). They were supported from outside by the Left Front and the Bharatiya Janata Party. The Leader of the Opposition, P. Upendra was a General Secretary of the Front at its formation.
In 1991, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha became a part of the front. The front got defunct before 1996 LS polls when NF tried to rope in both DMK and AIADMK resulting in the walking out of the DMK. In 1995 TDP also split with a minority faction siding with N. T. Rama Rao and the majority faction chose to side with Chandrababu Naidu. After NTR died of a heart attack in January 1996, Janata Dal stood by Rama Rao's widow Lakshmi Parvathi while Left parties formed an alliance with Chandrababu Naidu.
United Front (1996–1998)
After the 1996 elections, Janata Dal, Samajwadi Party, DMK, TDP, AGP, All India Indira Congress (Tiwari), Left Front (4 parties), Tamil Maanila Congress, National Conference, and Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party formed a 13 party United Front (UF). The coalition formed two governments in India between 1996 and 1998. The Prime Minister was first from Janata Dal - H. D. Deve Gowda, then later succeeded by I. K. Gujral, after both V. P. Singh and Jyoti Basu declined to become PM. Both governments were supported from outside by the Indian National Congress under Sitaram Kesri. Chandrababu Naidu of the Telugu Desam Party served as the convener of United Front.
The Indian general election in 1996 returned a fractured verdict. With the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) emerging as the largest party, with 161 of 543 seats, it was invited first to form a government. It accepted the offer, and Atal Bihari Vajpayee was sworn in as prime minister. However, he was unable to muster a majority on the floor of the house, and the government fell 13 days later. At a meeting of all the other parties, the Indian National Congress, with a substantial 140 seats, declined to head the government and along with the Communist Party of India (Marxist), agreed to extend outside support to a coalition with the Janata Dal at its head, named the "United Front". Other members of the front included the Samajwadi Party, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Asom Gana Parishad, Tamil Maanila Congress, Communist Party of India and Telugu Desam Party.
With the approval of the Congress and CPI(M), the sitting Chief Minister of Karnataka, H. D. Deve Gowda, was asked to head the coalition as Prime Minister after V. P. Singh and Jyoti Basu declined. His term was from June 1, 1996 - April 21, 1997. The Congress revoked its support to Deve Gowda amidst discontent over communication between the coalition and the Congress. It compromised to support a new government under I. K. Gujral, who was Prime Minister from April 21, 1997 - March 19, 1998. Following the collapse of his government, fresh elections were called, and the United Front lost power.
United National Progressive Alliance (2008)
Prior to 2008, the Third Front existed as the United National Progressive Alliance (UNPA) for a brief period of time. It was then a grouping of eight political parties in India who were neither in United Progressive Alliance (UPA) nor in National Democratic Alliance (NDA) or in Indian left. The alliance had then approached Abdul Kalam to contest the Indian presidential election. Rasheed Masood was their Vice-Presidential candidate.The UNPA however split in 2008, to be resurrected in 2009 as the Third Front.
The United National Progressive Alliance or Third Front was created as an alliance of ten different political parties on March 12, 2009, at a rally held in Dobbaspet, a small town 50 kilometres from Bengaluru. The advertisement put forth on this day read:
"The Third Front is being launched, against the pro-rich economic policies of the national parties like the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party, against the growth of communal and fascist forces and to remain determined and committed to the cause of the pro-farmer, pro-poor, pro-worker, pro-other backward classes, pro-dalit, pro-women, pro-minorities and pro-youth."
- Revolutionary Socialist Party (India)
- All India Forward Bloc
- Samajwadi Party
- Janata Dal (United)
- Janata Dal (Secular)
- Jharkhand Vikas Morcha
- Biju Janata Dal
- Asom Gana Parishad
- Telangana Rashtra Samithi
- Communist Party of India (Marxist) CPI(M)
- Communist Party of India
- Indian National Lok Dal
- Bahujan Samaj Party
- All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam
- M. L. Ahuja (1998). Electoral politics and general elections in India, 1952-1998. Mittal Publications. pp. 9–. ISBN 978-81-7099-711-5. Retrieved 10 December 2010.
- "The United National Progressive Alliance Splits". Retrieved 2009-03-12.
- "Left, key regional parties launch the Third Front". Retrieved 2009-03-12.