Does Sharad have ‘Pawar’ to lead a Third Front?

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Ambani and Adani, the two gentlemen from Gujarat are hogging more than just sunlight. They have the monopoly on all vitamins that feed India’s growth story, even if the growth translates in only increasing their wealth. What’s troubling is that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government appear to be dancing to the tunes set by big business. Ratan Tata said it when he replied, “I’m an industrialist, he’s a businessman. Ambani and Adani’s mission is profit!” Is it that the one-time small-town chai-wala is overawed by the sheer size of the Ambani and Adani operations? The Prime Minister is convinced India will ride into economic superpower-dom on the shoulders of Ambani and Adani.

Anyway, the farmers are not way off the mark when they say the new farm laws will break them because they are trimmed and fashioned to benefit Ambani and Adani. MSP apart, they are worried they will lose their lands. The government says no, but look at what’s happening in America where Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos have been buying prime farmland left right and centre. In fact, Gates owns about 2,42,000 acres and Bezos over 4,00000 in the USA alone. In addition, Gates has interests in seeds and farming technology, and he’s spread his operations to India and Africa. The question is, are Ambani and Adani up to the same tricks a la Gates and Bezos? According to an Uttarakhand journalist, big business has got its soiled hands on several hills in the hill state and hills are where farmers farm in Uttarakhand. Such tid-bits are what’s feeding the farmers’ agitation, and not so much a Greta Thunberg or Disha Ravi toolkit. The farmers have an idea of who they are up against.

But, going off on a tangent, is there any power behind NCP Chief Sharad Pawar’s call for a ‘Third Front’? Pawar has been the architect of several failed third fronts. But this time could be different because this time Pawar sees himself leading the Third Front from the front, even as a Prime Ministerial candidate if the Third Front comes to power! Sharad has fancied himself as a Prime Ministerial candidate for a long time and time is running out on him. And if anything or anybody stands in Pawar’s way to stake claim, it’s the Congress and the Gandhis. Only a couple of weeks ago, Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut had said Pawar should lead the UPA, replacing Sonia Gandhi at the helm. The question is, can today’s political situation sustain a Third Front? Is the time ripe? Pawar and Sitaram Yechury think so. Both have voiced their eagerness for a third political front to take on the BJP in full and the Congress by half. Then, again, talk of a Third Front could be only because of the Kerala and West Bengal elections. The NCP is with the LDF in Kerala, and aligned with the Trinamool in West Bengal. The farmers’ agitation, the Centre’s intransigence, Ambani and Adani, and the hegemony of big business, all give room to build a robust opposition to the BJP, which is on the back foot, but individual ambitions will at the end of the day overtake good intentions.

 

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