Like a T20 match, Akhilesh Yadav made a condensed trip to Chennai a few days ago, meeting Chief Minster J Jayalalithaa and participating in Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK)' s youth festival.
Straightaway, the UP chief minister's maiden visit to the city triggered talks of an alternate third front - an electoral alliance with neither the BJP nor the Congress in it, especially after he told the media, "The Congress and the BJP have not fulfilled their promises. There is an opportunity for a third force."
That Akhilesh thought it fit to test the waters in Tamil Nadu is significant, say observers. While addressing the PMK cadre, he had said, "You want my father to come forward to lead at the Centre? I should add that only when you support, he would get the strength for that."
The PMK may not be a strong suit if you are hoping for the rubber in the political bridge game, which is why Akhilesh's visit as their guest may have raised a few eyebrows. But he got the platform to make his pitch, for a third front, with his father, Samajwadi Party(SP) leader Mulayam Singh Yadav as the prime ministerial candidate.
The senior Yadav was quick to extend outside support to the UPA II when the DMK withdrew support a few weeks ago, but it is not an autumn sonata for the Congress in the final year of its UPA II.
The general elections are not due until 2014, but with both the BJP and the Congress in dire need of coalition partners, the question of who will be named the prime ministerial candidate has in fact turned out to be a job opening that political leaders in some states have begun to aspire for.
Observers say that a few months ago when BJP leader LK Advani wrote in his blog that a non-BJP, non-Congress candidate can become the prime minister, a number of AIADMK cadre began to believe that their leader and Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa would make the cut.
She herself had told her cadre to ensure that the AIADMK won all 39 seats in the state. Posters sprang up all over the city, hailing her as the 'future PM'.
While her party wants her to get the top political job in the country, does Akhilesh mooting a third front, with his father at the forefront, make any sense? Will either of them allow the other to be the first among the equals? Observers say that the post of a deputy PM could be used as a bargaining chip.
Everything hinges on whether the AIADMK can pull off a Gayle like rout at the polls and decimate the DMK and other opposition parties.
"At the moment, with the power situation in the state continuing to be a source for misery for the common man, the odds are even, between the DMK and the AIADMK, and neither party has an edge " says a political analyst. "However, it may change closer to the elections, but right now it is a fifty-fifty chance," he adds.
Other columns by the author