Looks like the hopes of Mulayam, Jaya and other PM hopefuls might not come true in 2014... good analysis by Sri Minhaz Merchant. Third Front mirage: Why the numbers donâ€™t add up Ten political parties met on Wednesday, February 5, to stitch together a â€œnon-Congress, non-BJPâ€ front ahead of the 2014 general election. The parties represented at the meeting â€“ though not all by their top leaders â€“ were the JD(U), SP, AIADMK, BJD, JD(S), AGP and the four Left parties. The JVM, though invited, did not turn up. These 10 parties currently have 94 MPs in the Lok Sabha. What are their prospects for 2014? According to recent opinion polls, the projected numbers for the 10 Third Front (TF) members are: AIADMK: 25; JD(U): 5; JD(S): 2; AGP: 0; SP: 15; BJD: 12; Left (4 parties): 25; Total: 84 Mayawatiâ€™s BSP cannot be part of the TF due to Mulayamâ€™s presence. Ditto Lalu Prasad Yadav and Nitish Kumar (though Lalu will anyway hitch his wagon to the Congress). Mamata Banerjeeâ€™s TMC cannot join the TF because of its bÃªte noire, the Left. The DMK will stay away owing to Jayalalithaa. (Her trial on income-tax cases will commence shortly. The Supreme Court has ordered that the trial must be completed in four months â€“ ie, just after the Lok Sabha results are out, putting her in an extremely vulnerable position.) A TF with 84 Lok Sabha MPs in May 2014 is not something that will unduly frighten the BJP or the Congress. But of course, the equation is TF+Congres+AAP â€“ the latter two propping up the hopeful TF government in a bid to stop Narendra Modi. Will it work? The hard numbers suggest it wonâ€™t. Hereâ€™s why. The most optimistic opinion poll projections give the Congress 80-90 seats and AAP 10-20 seats. Taking the midpoint, Congress + AAP will hover around 100 seats. If they prop up 84 TF MPs, the total will still be only 184 seats in the next Lok Sabha. Can succour be found by scavenging among the UPAâ€™s vanishing allies? Consider the NCP, NC and DMK. Together they could pull in a projected 15 Lok Sabha MPs in 2014, taking the TF+Congress+AAP to a precarious 199 seats. Add convict Laluâ€™s RJD and the total rises to around 210 seats. How about the TRS and YSR Congress? If the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh does not take place before the Lok Sabha poll, the TRS will not merge with the Congress. That could have given it 8-10 extra Lok Sabha seats â€“ a reason in these frugal times why the Congress is so keen to get the Telangana bill passed in this session of parliament. Even if it does succeed in doing so, the TF (84) + Congress (85) + AAP (15) + UPA allies (15) + RJD (11) + TRS (10) will take this eclectic grouping of 17 parties to 220 Lok Sabha MPs. Still short by 52 seats of forming a stable government, there ironically will be no shortage of prime ministerial aspirants â€“ Jaya, Mulayam, Nitish, perhaps even the anodyne Naveen. But 220 Lok Sabha MPs across 17 parties does not a government make. And the alternative? The BJP is projected by opinion polls to win between180 and 220 seats. Again take the midpoint of 200. Add pre-poll allies Shiv Sena, Shiromani Akali Dal, Telegu Desam and others totalling around 40 MPs, taking the pre-poll NDA to 240 seats. Where would the balance post-poll allies with 32 MPs, to enable the NDA to hit the 272 mark, come from? There could be around 12 independents, the YSR Congress with 15 seats and 5 from a UPA breakaway. Crucially, therefore, the NDA could get to 272 without Mamata, Mayawati or Jayalalithaa and with the BJP winning just 200 seats in its own. But how plausible is even 200 in a fractious election? Consider the BJPâ€™s projections state-wise averaged out over recent opinion polls: Gujarat: 23 MP: 25 Rajasthan 21 Maharashtra: 18 Chhattisgarh: 8 Karnataka: 15 Uttar Pradesh: 45 Bihar: 20 Jharkhand: 7 Uttarakhand: 4 Himachal Pradesh: 3 Assam: 3 Jammu & Kashmir: 2 Haryana: 4 Punjab: 3 Goa: 2 Daman & Diu: 1 Nagar Haveli: 1 Odisha: 1 Total: 206 To this add Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Delhi, Andhra Pradesh/Telangana and Kerala, where the number of seats for the BJP is difficult to estimate at this stage in the campaign, and 200 seats seems a reasonable estimate â€“ perhaps an underestimate. There is a good reason why the TF + Congress + AAP + shrunken UPA + RJD + TRS (if Telangana is formed) will fail. Despite much huffing and puffing by 17 parties, four PM aspirants and plenty of machinations, it probably wonâ€™t get past 220 MPs. In 1996, the United Front government had 191 MPs and was supported by the Congress with 141 MPs â€“ 332 in all. In 2014, even for 17 parties, stapled together by cold-blooded expediency, that number is unlikely to be more than 220 MPs, making a comparision with 1996 invalid. Those who prefer a stable government over a â€œkhichdiâ€ government cooked in a Machiavellian kitchen will lose little sleep over the TFâ€™s chimeric prospects.