The role of Regional Parties in forming the Government

The role of Regional Parties in forming the Government

               In any democracy, politics can make or break political careers. In India, the stakes have always been high with most elections. The Indian constitution allows for our political leaders to contest elections, both – Assembly and general elections. Our democracy is so plural with so many castes, communities, tribes and their aspirations, that it becomes difficult for any political leadership to cater to all the citizens. The dynamics of electoral politics set amid this large population of over 1.2 billion people, isn’t all that simple as it may seem. Yet, Indian democracy has stood the test of time, thanks to our strong constitution.

              Since the time of independence, India has realized that the progress of a nation should be in the progress of the states. India also has a feature of cooperative federalism, which is part of the basic structure of the constitution. The division of powers between the Centre and states ensures stable governance in our country, despite challenges. A lot has been written and debated about the role of Centre-state relations. The unitary and federal spirit both as a combination or say quasi-federal nature is embedded in our Indian democratic system. However, one cannot ignore the role of states in the growth of a nation.

            The 2019 elections are gaining so much traction because it isn’t just like any election of India, but this year’s general elections can make or break careers for leaders in both the national parties (The Congress and the BJP) when the stakes are so high. This is where the role of regional parties come in while forming the government, especially in a post-poll scenario.

The Current Situation-

             The most honest prediction for the 2019 elections can puzzle even the most capable political analysts. We are witnessing a new low in political discourse today, unlike before, with such ferocious and bitter attacks between political leaders in their fight for power. This fight will show the real outcome for the 2019 elections in the world’s largest democracy. But what can be predicted looking at the current trends? One thing we can observe is that there will always be elements of pre-poll election opposition unity, but will that hold true once the numbers are out? Although at some level uneven nationally and dicey regionally, can the groupings between alliances prevent the BJP get a simple majority on its own? For many leaders, the BJP’s victory will end their political careers. Looking at this there are personal and political stakes for many leaders, which is why the opposition unity cannot be ignored altogether! Despite opposition strongly taking on the Prime Minister, Modi’s political acumen and charisma hasn’t been wilted among many in the voter base, through the heat of incumbencies in many states. But national narratives aside, regional parties do sway things well for big players, especially in the post-poll scenario.

           One cannot look at the political landscape in just one direction but we need a multi-pronged approach while dissecting issues and policies. The 2014 and the 2019 elections are really very different. For the BJP to win, the regional parties will also have a say. States like Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal will show the real nature of politics for the 2019 tone and mood. Despite what the media reports, the scenes behind the curtain will never be known. For example, the BSP (Bahujan Samaj Party) and the SP (Samajwadi Party) alliance in tackling both the BJP and the Congress, waiting for the right time to strike after the results are out is one thing. The other thing in Bengal is the violence which ensued at the Modi Vs. Mamata factor, the latter will have more sway in the final tally which determines the BJP’s victory. However, one cannot ignore how the Marxists will play Bengal in this fight for 2019.

               If one goes South, the dynamics among regional players are very different. K. Chandrashekar Rao heading the TRS (Telangana Rashtra Samithi) has also sought meetings with his counterparts from other Indian southern states in an attempt to forge the ground for a Federal front of non-Congress and non-BJP parties once the results are out. Last year this idea was not able to take off due to various reasons. Some parties like the DMK (Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam), Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Janata Dal (S) favored to align with the Congress and this was not part of the TRS’s plan. On the other had the TMC (Trinamool Congress) did also not rule out an alliance with the Congress, and so the Biju Janata Dal was also open to an alliance with the BJP or Congress. The TRS’s ambition although is aimed at state-specific objectives towards development, the Federal front will have to see the light of the day depending on other political parties. There are also other forces the TRS is opposed to like the TDP (Telugu Desam Party) and there is also a reorientation of various political parties before the polls get over. This is clearly visible after the meeting between Karnataka Chief Minister H.D Kumaraswamy, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and DMK strongman M.K. Stalin. One can only wait and watch how things will pan out?

Lessons from the past for the future-

             History also teaches us many things, even in elections and politics. Nothing can really be said or predicted? Rajiv Gandhi’s Congress lost the elections by his own former minister V.P Singh through the Janata Dal in 1988. The BJP under Modi has to realize from the past, especially from former deputy Prime Minister L. K. Advani on the statements made after the 2004 Lok Sabha Elections, and ignoring the core-constituencies: the Indian middle class and the bigwigs of the Sangh Parivar. In 1977, Indira Gandhi was defeated for imposing the Emergency but she returned in 1980. So, the fate the Congress cannot also be written off by some media debates which are biased towards the BJP. Another instance, the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government led-NDA lost in 2004 despite its great performance. So, nothing can be truly predicted! In these elections, the real political test will shape the future narrative for the next five years that will have an impact not just on national parties but also regional aspirations.

           Another factor to remember is that there is an inherent bias visible wherein national parties get to rule at the Centre for a long time. Many non-Congress and non-BJP parties have held the fort at the Centre for just less than five years, since independence. This says a lot! But our Indian voters are smart in voting, and only those national parties that have been able to have a pan-Indian presence have been able to truly maneuver coalitions at the Centre. This is as far as the Indian elections can go and yet the democratic system holds together because of the strong constitution given by our founding fathers.



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