"With no major party likely to win an outright majority of 272 and with Congress's vote-share likely to crumble, if the BJP underperform or fail to woo coalition partners a third front government may just steal a victory."
In the last week of February a motley crew of 11 political parties announced the formation of a "third front" to contest seats in India's upcoming elections. With the polls due by May, the timing of this announcement is unsurprising. The larger political context, however, is: India's imminent general election is the most important in decades, and the conditions may finally be right for a third front to snatch victory.
On February 25, the third front – comprising seven regional and four left-leaning parties – declared itself an "alternative" to the dominance of India's two main parties: the incumbent Congress and the opposition BJP. After 10 years in office the Congress-led coalition is likely to suffer an emphatic defeat. The 11-party third front has therefore aligned itself against the BJP, the right-wing opposition party that it fears "represents a dangerous mix [of] aggressive capitalism [and] a rabid form of communal ideology."