Telangana chief minister K Chandrashekhar Rao met DMK leaders in Chennai and later this week, he is expected to meet the Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav and Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik. KCR has already held talks with Mamata Banerjee, HD Deve Gowda and Hemanth Soren in a bid to gather support for his idea of forming a non-Congress and non-BJP federal front.
But, eight questions stare these attempts to form such a front of mainly regional parties in the face:
First, to what extent are these parties consistent on their opposition to the Congress and BJP? Most of these parties were formed as part of governments led by either the Congress or BJP. How can they convince people of their sincerity in opposing these two national parties? Even today, the Janata Dal (S) is not averse to joining either of the two national parties based on who would offer HD Kumaraswamy the chief minister's seat. The DMK is still part of the Congress-led UPA and even the TMC and SP are not opposed to joining hands with Congress. Can such a combination of pusillanimous regional parties provide any credible alternative to both the Congress and BJP?
Second, all the regional parties and the smaller parties put together hardly account for half of the seats in the Lok Sabha. With some minor changes, this picture is unlikely to change even in 2019. Given the contradictions within these parties, can it be possible to form a national coalition government post-2019 without the support or leadership of either of the national parties?
Third, these regional parties have internecine differences due to inter-regional disputes. Can JD(S) and DMK agree on sharing Cauvery waters. Similarly, the TRS and TDP do not have a common position on a host of issues confronting the two Telugu states. The CPM that could be one of a credible non-Congress and non-BJP platform cannot join hands with the TMC. The Biju Janata Dal that rules Odisha and the TDP disagree on the Polavaram project. How can a front of regional parties reconcile such interstate disputes and differences that are emotive for all the regional players?
Fourth, KCR states that the federal front is not just stitching together a few political parties with a view to coming to power. But, he calls it an attempt to bring about a radical change in the lives of people through alternative policies and programmes. But, none of these governments led by regional parties have displayed any radically different policy dispensation in their own states. The social and economic policies of these regional parties are in no way different that that of the national parties. Given such incrementalism in the approaches of national and regional parties, radically different policies cannot be expected from a government led by a federal front, making the entire exercise unworthy of its intentions.
Fifth, any party that wishes to rule the nation should have a perspective on the issues confronting the nation and the world whether one agrees or disagrees with such a perspective. But, regional parties have a tendency to stay aloof from national concerns. They often respond only to issues confronting their respective states. How can parties that lack a national vision of their own form a national coalition government?
Sixth, there are too many prime ministerial aspirants within the regional political spectrum. Mamata, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Deve Gowda, and even Chandrababu Naidu and now KCR would love to compete for the top political post. Can it be possible for these leaders to arrive at an enduring consensus on forming a government under a stable leadership?
Seventh, the state-specific political reality does not always present a contest between a national party and a regional party. States like Tamil Naidu, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir, etc primarily have contests between two regional parties only. Only one of them can join such a proposed federal front. Thus, such a front fails to represent entire regional aspirations. The DMK and AIADMK cannot be part of any single national coalition. Similarly, the TDP and the YSR Congress cannot be part of same national coalition.
Eight, new regional players are entering the political fray making the regional political spectrum much more fragmented. The formation of new parties led by Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan, and the birth of the Telangana Jana Samithi, the Jana Sena etc are a few such illustrations. This trend goes unabated making all encompassing regional federation of political parties almost impossible.
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Updated Date: Apr 30, 2018 17:57:10 IST