Monday, May 27, 2024

Role of regionalists


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Regional parties are overtly demonstrating their clout in the present parliament polls in several states, even as the larger Hindi belt states remain firmly with the BJP. Compared to 2019 when the last general elections were held, their sway has not been diminished. The southern states are either with the regional parties or the Congress. The eastern states are also with regional chieftains and so are the northeastern states for the most part. Put together, they can form a formidable combination and they are sure to win a substantial number of Lok Sabha seats. If the Congress manages to win around 100 seats, mainly from the South, most regional parties are more likely to ally with it, and not with the BJP, in case no party gets a majority in parliament. This is for the reason that the Congress will be more accommodating in the INDIA format, unlike the BJP that seeks to dominate the political spectrum at the expense of others.
Yet, fact is also that the BJP failed miserably in achieving its goal of a Congress-mukht Bharat. Examples are the way the tricolour party won assembly polls in Karnataka, where it ousted the BJP from power and in Telangana where it outwitted the BRS. The BJP is part of a coalition government in Maharashtra where it had earlier lost power and then allowed the rebel Shiv Sena to run the present government from the front. The saffron party allowed itself to play second fiddle to the Sena — a far cry from the previous term when a BJP chief minister ran the state’s affairs.
To the BJP’s credit, it won back the support of Bihar’s Nitish Kumar, but this in itself is no guarantee that it can sweep the polls in the state this time. In West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee remains a formidable figure and so is Naveen Patnaik in Odisha. In the national capital Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal has been jailed, but his AAP in alliance with the Congress is bound to give the BJP a run for its money. Among the regional satraps, MK Stalin is bound to stick with the INDIA alliance. In Kerala, the Congress is believed to do well in the polls just as it did in 2019.In the northeast, Assam may still be a safe bet for the BJP. The regional parties across the sister states have a history of allying with those in power in Delhi, so as to draw benefits for the region and for other reasons too. Neither the Congress nor the BJP can be sure of their support in a changed scenario. All of these would mean that the future post June 4 is unpredictable. It could be anybody’s game.


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