Leaders of the House

What does it say about the next Lok Sabha if everybody wants to be PM?

Don’t hold him personally responsible, but H.D. Deve Gowda perhaps started — or was made by circumstances to start — a quest that once again is making our politics so interesting. In the spring of 1996, when the people of India voted in a fractured Lok Sabha and so wired for a third front government, there actually began a hunt for a willing soul to be prime minister. Once a United Front Government was a certainty, there began a chase around Delhi by assorted political leaders for V.P. Singh, who had gone into hiding to make his inability to take up the job amply clear. In the moments thereafter, India found itself a new prime minister in the form of Gowda, then chief minister of Karnataka.

Ever since, “third front” politics has been especially conducive to the imaginations of those who’d be prime minister. The possibility of a non-Congress, non-BJP led government being ever-present, assorted politicians engineer their strategy just so that when a “third front” government is formed, s/he will appear to be the obvious candidate to head it. That’s been, for instance, Mayawati’s little-concealed gameplan. And now the soup has been stirred with Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, one-time Rajasthan strongman for the BJP and former vice-president of India asserting that he is ready to be a consensus prime minister. 

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