New Delhi: Some of the political parties that once made up the Third Front are ready to shake hands again. But pundits feel the idea is a non-starter -- at least now.
The Samajwadi Party and the Communists are the most enthusiastic of the lot who want to stitch together what they call 'a third alternative' ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha battle.
Not everyone is that keen although some are ready to share a platform on specific issues.
Political experts admit the time is not ripe for another Third Front notwithstanding the fact that neither the Congress nor the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is in a position to take power on its own.
'There is space for a Third Front as the Congress and the BJP can never claim to represent the country in the true sense,' D. Raja of the Communist Party of India (CPI) said.
'We are actively considering with like-minded parties a political alternative to the Congress and the BJP,' he added.
Samajwadi Party general secretary Mohan Singh said: 'There is a need to explore a third alternative.'
But the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), which is facing multiple challenges in Andhra Pradesh where it once held sway, does not appear to be that keen -- for now.
TDP's Nama Nageshwara Rao said his party was, however, discussing corruption and farmers' issues with 'like-minded parties'.
The Biju Janata Dal (BJD), which rules Orissa and is equidistant from both the Congress and the BJP, has not made up its mind.
In Tamil Nadu, the DMK is with the Congress while the now ruling AIADMK has links with the Left in the state. But the AIADMK could embrace the BJP nationally.
Nisar-ul Haq, professor of political science at Jamia Milia Islamia university here, said a Third Front was unlikely in the immediate future because the Communists had hurt themselves badly.
'The Left's relevance has reduced. Hence, forging a Third Front would be difficult,' Haq told IANS.
N. Bhaskara Rao of the Centre for Media Studies (CMS), said a Third Front alliance -- similar to the one which ruled India in 1996-98 -- was unlikely as the situation was fluid.
Political analyst G.V.L. Narasimha Rao agreed. 'People are wary of such groups,' he said. 'They fear it will only lead to further instability.'
Lalu Prasad's Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Ram Vilas Paswan's Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) are not talking about a third front. Ditto the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP).
The same holds true for the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S). And the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) divorced the Third Front a long time ago.
The Samajwadi Party is strong only in Uttar Pradesh, which accounts for 80 of the 545 Lok Sabha seats. The Left has been battered in Kerala (20 seats) and West Bengal (42).
In earlier Third Front formations, the Left played a key role. But having lost power in West Bengal after 34 long years, its influence has greatly waned.
And in the absence of people like Harkishan Singh Surjeet who played a major role in bringing together various politicians, most of whom he knew personally, things are not looking good for Third Front propagandists.
Bhaskara Rao, however, feels that regional parties could get together because of growing antipathy to New Delhi. But this would not be the Third Front that India has known.