The national Indian political scene has been in a state of flux for decades now with no-one making an accurate prediction as to who will capture power at the Centre.
In 2004, the NDA looked set to get re-elected, but that didn't happen. Then despite all odds, the UPA completed its term. At the beginning of 2009, the UPA looked set to fall from power, but even that didn't happen.
After the 2009 general elections, almost everyone (including the Congress) was sure that the UPA would be re-elected in 2014 too.
With the way things have been going on for the last couple of years (endless scams and an economy in tailspin), it seems likely that the UPA is finally on its last legs.
Now with Mulayam Singh Yadav's SP and Mamata Banerjee's TMC drama vis a vis the Presidential polls, a Third Front statement has been made and it could well portend the future no matter what happens in the end.
With the Congress looking set to lose seat share in the upcoming general elections and with the Opposition BJP not looking good to reap all the benefits of anti-incumbency wave, a Third Front looks set to form the government in 2013/14.
A no-confidence motion against the PM: While there is no danger to the government at the Centre as of today, by proposing the name of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for President, the SP and TMC had in effect moved a no-confidence motion against the PM.
It is a huge embarrassment for the Congress Party as two key parties have said in a veiled way that Manmohan Singh is not fit for the job of the PM and should be politely kicked upstairs. A PM being considered for President is unheard of in Independent India's history.
If the Congress had bitten the bait, then the replacement for Manmohan would have been a tricky task indeed. Rahul Gandhi might prove to be a disaster in today's uncertain political climate and someone else may not prove to be a consensus candidate like Manmohan.
Even if Manmohan was never a serious candidate for Presidency, the damage has been done.
Third Front rising: If one converts the current Assembly seat share to Lok Sabha share (it is not as simple as that, but it still serves as a general indicator), then a lot of smaller players must be itching for general elections to take place.
Mulayam's SP would get 45 LS seats. Jaya's ADMK would get 34 seats. Mamata's TMC would get 26 seats. That's more than a 100 seats for just these three parties. There are many other players like Biju Patnaik and Mayawati who could get together if the next mandate was against both the BJP and Congress. Parties like the NCP would also jump into the bandwagon if they felt that there was no chance of the Congress coming to power.
The Congress received their maximum LS vote share from Andhra Pradesh and that is one state that is in total disarray. In fact Jaganmohan Reddy's YSR Congress looks to be the biggest gainer there and he too will prop up the Third Front if it means keeping the Congress out of power for a while.
Policy paralysis: Ever since the UPA has got riddled with its current sets of crises, there has been a sort of policy paralysis at the Centre with no firm decisions and big-ticket reforms. But with the way the current political roadmap is panning out, things could get much much worse.
We could have general elections in 2013 and have a Third Front government for 2-3 years followed by general elections again in 2016. That will throw all long-term policy decisions down the drain. Someone had asked whether it would be a Narendra Modi versus Rahul Gandhi for PM in 2014. Well that could well happen in 2016 with a totally unexpected PM in between.
Either way it would not be good for the economy and the general health of the country. We had a failed experiment from 1989-91 that produced two insignificant prime ministers. That was followed by the country almost going bankrupt and being forced to go in for liberalisation.
It happened again from 1996-98 with two more insignificant prime ministers. That was balanced by the six years of stable NDA rule that followed immediately after.
The country can ill afford a lame duck UPA2 in the second half of its term followed by another 2-3 years of Third Front instability, but that is exactly the path that national politics is following right now!