Parties, feudal states
The rising clout of regional parties in India is at the expense of the two national political establishments – the Congress and the BJP. Regional parties, per se, are not an anathema but each such party in the mainland today is run as a family enterprise and is carrying with it the tag of corruption. No ideology guides these entities, unlike the two national parties or even the Left. Chances of fissiparous and separatist tendencies gaining the upper hand in due course are a matter of serious worry.
The Samajwadi Party is now threatening to outwit the BJP in Uttar Pradesh. The series of resignations of ministers and MLAs from the BJP is to the serious disadvantage of the ruling party. The regional parties are also attempting to grab power from the BJP at the Centre while they have turned states into Princely States as in the pre-Independence times. While West Bengal’s Mamata Banerjee is seeking to cobble an anti-BJP, non-Congress front, this week saw RJD leader Tejaswi Yadav taking a chartered flight from Bihar to Telangana for a tie-up with chief minister Chandrashekar Rao. Once the 2024 results are out, a coalition against the BJP powered by the regional parties could emerge. If the BJP loses and unless the Congress gets substantial number of seats, regional parties could stake claim for the PM post to run the central government from the front — based on their whims, not ideology.
When Narendra Modi campaigned for the 2014 polls and took power in Delhi, his promise was to neutralize the influence of the corrupt regional parties that made hay when the UPA II held power. Among his first acts was to include two “sons” from the BJP leadership to his ministry, if only to buy peace with the veterans in the party. In the past seven years of his rule, the clout of the regional parties has grown manifold. They are running the government in most states. There is no transparency in the way they use the huge funds they collect out of governmental deals – partly for party purposes and partly for their own cash chests. Loot is believed to be the name of the game as was evident also in the ‘bar bribe’ scam in Mumbai. Such a situation in state after state is created by the weakening of the Congress establishment and the failure of Prime Minister Modi and the BJP to effectively provide a counter-weight to regional parties. Their weak positioning hastened the worsening of this scenario.