A clutch of regional parties from across the country, most with a history of being fiercely anti-Congress, came together on Wednesday saying they wanted to fight communalism, with their target being the BJP and its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.
Although none of them predicted a political realignment before the 2014 elections, the convention against communalism attended by 14 parties - including UPA constituent NCP - was silent on the Congress and the UPA government.
A brainchild of the Left, the convention was the first attempt by parties to find a common slogan unlike in 2009 when the Left parties had made a half-hearted attempt to foist a Third Front. Between them, the parties have 101 seats in the present Lok Sabha.
But the leaders, be it Nitish Kumar or H D Deve Gowda, made a conscious attempt to dispel the notion of the grouping being an electoral front, knowing well that all of them have their options open and many who could switch sides.
Kumar, who has been attacked strongly by Modi and the BJP, said the parties should remain united to fight "communalism, fascist mindset and terrorism". But, he seemed to be aware of the political compulsions in a fluid situation.
"To defeat communalism, fascist mindset and terrorism, we should remain together to the extent it is possible and practical. I am saying to the extent possible because we all know one or two will disappear," he said.
"We are being asked whether a new front is being formed. It is not appropriate to speculate. As of today, there is nothing. But we will have to think and unite against communalism, terrorism and fascism," Kumar added.
The CPM's Sitaram Yechury resorted to a cricketing analogy, saying, "There is nothing like a Third Front but this is a 'doosra' of Indian politics."
SP leader Ramgopal Yadav said, "This is the beginning...you will see a lot in the coming days."
The grouping had many potential prime ministerial candidates and their own agendas. The TDP, which has been moving closer to the NDA, did not respond to an invitation to attend the conclave, it is learnt. The Left wanted to reassert its relevance at a time Mamata Banerjee has floated the idea of a federal front and reached out to Naveen Patnaik and Nitish Kumar. Mulayam Singh Yadav had to reaffirm his "secular credentials" after Muzaffarnagar while Nitish has