New Delhi: The math reads thus: 11 parties with 92 representatives in the Lok Sabha currently that expect to do better in the coming general election, and with four leaders nursing prime ministerial ambitions.

Together, the states where these 11 parties have a presence—they run the local government in some—account for 298 Lok Sabha seats.

That’s the so-called Third Front that has been mid-wifed by the Communist Party of India (Marxist), or CPM, in an attempt to provide an alternative to the Indian National Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

On Tuesday, the leaders of nine of the 11 parties—the CPM, Communist Party of India (CPI); the Samajwadi Party, the Janata Dal (United), or JD(U); the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK); the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik); the All India Forward Bloc; the Revolutionary Socialist Party, and the Janata Dal (Secular)—met in Delhi, the largest gathering of the coalition-in-the-making, although the meeting ended without either a common agenda or a seat-sharing formula.

The Asom Gana Parishad and the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) were not represented at the meeting, which took place ahead of the likely announcement of the dates for the next general election in the first week of March. The election is due to be held by April-May.

The parties, which met at Tripura Bhavan, the state house of Tripura, the only state where the Left is in power, came up with a joint declaration in which they pledged to “throw Congress out of power" and defeat and prevent “the BJP and the communal forces" from coming to power.

“There has to be an alternative to the Congress and the BJP—an alternative which has a democratic, secular, federal and pro-people development agenda," the declaration said.

“Five years of the United Progressive Alliance-2 government have led to all-round problems and suffering for the people... The BJP which claims to be the alternative has no policies different from that of the Congress... Moreover, it represents an ideology which spells divisiveness, disunity and communal disharmony which will endanger the secular democratic fabric," the joint declaration added.

“We are not doing the seat sharing as 11 parties here. Every party in their own areas and respective state has to perform their best and our idea is to pool in maximum resources to ensure the victory of our candidates," said Prakash Karat, general secretary of the CPM

The Samajwadi Party’s Mulayam Singh Yadav, the AIADMK’s J. Jayalalithaa, the JD(U)’s Nitish Kumar, and the BJD’s Naveen Patnaik are all believed to have prime ministerial ambitions.

“Our alliances and the fronts in the past have always decided PMs after the elections," said Karat.

The CPM, along with the other three Left parties, played a key role in forming an alternative coalition, the United Front, that ruled India between 1996 and 1998, with the backing of the Congress, which was not part of the government. No party has won a simple majority in the 543-member Lok Sabha since 1984.

Derek O’ Brien, a Rajya Sabha member belonging to the Trinamool Congress, arch-rival of the Left in West Bengal and a Fourth Front in itself with its chief Mamata Banerjee too having prime ministerial ambitions (she has the blessings of anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare) tweeted: “The Third Front is not just dead, it was never born. It is a hobby horse of the Communists, who want to use the power of regional parties to manipulate their way to influence without responsibility and to promote obsolete agendas."

Analysts say the Third Front might have got together too late.

Opinion polls show a fractured mandate, but with the BJP gaining significant ground, and the Congress seeing a fall in the number of seats. The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance that has ruled India since 2004 had been besieged by a series of corruption scandals and criticized for its mishandling of the economy.

Badri Narayan, an Uttar Pradesh-based political analyst, said: “It is a little late. Had they come together earlier, they would have fractured the support base (of the BJP and the Congress)."

He added that being part of a national coalition could only strengthen their performance in the respective states, and that the Front could project Orissa, Bihar, and Tamil Nadu as models of good governance.

The new Aam Aadmi Party is not part of the front and Karat ruled out any possibility of reaching out to the activist party.

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