No role for regional parties in national politics
Deccan Chronicle.| N VAMSI SRINIVAS
Stands of chief ministers of both Telugu states on Presidential poll shows erosion of power
Jagan Mohan Reddy (in picture), in a repeat of 2017, extended unconditional support to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's pick of the Presidential candidate. By arrangement
HYDERABAD: Decisions of Chief Ministers of the two Telugu states — K. Chandrashekar Rao and Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy – on the Presidential election, though divergent, have once again exposed the increasingly limited roles that the regional parties could play on the national political stage.
Chandrashekar Rao’s hungama in the run-up to the election, as was seen in his efforts to establish a national alternative to the BJP and the Congress, fell flat and, after being singled out within the Opposition camp, had no other choice but to support its candidate Yashwant Sinha.
Jagan Mohan Reddy, in a repeat of 2017, extended unconditional support to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pick of the Presidential candidate, ignoring criticism that he was compromising on the state’s interests due to personal compulsions. The principal Opposition in Andhra Pradesh, the Telugu Desam, sought an explanation from Jagan Mohan Reddy on why he did not insist on special status as a trade-off.
"We are clear in our politics (vis-a-vis Centre) from day one we are in office," said a close confidant of Jagan Mohan Reddy who has even scored a few brownie points from the Modi-Shah duo for, what they perceive to be, his no-nonsense and stick-to-the stand attitude. "Everyone knows special status is a closed chapter. Instead, we have been using the leverage for getting additional grants and loans," the confidant pointed out.
The Telugu Desam was the only party in the erstwhile combined Telugu state that played a decisive role in national politics thrice in 1989, 1996 and 1999. The Vajpayee-led NDA government had to depend on the TD’s numbers for the first few years till it mustered support of others and ran on its own. It was possible mainly because the two principal players, the Congress and the BJP, had less than 300 seats between them, leaving scope for regional satraps to call the shots. Fast forward to 2022, and the BJP has 300-plus seats in its kitty and is all set to conquer new regional territories.
"The Congress reversed the decline of national parties in 2004 and Modi took (the trend) to a new level in 2014. The role of regional parties will further dwindle as the nationalist narrative of the BJP and pan-India image of Modi are intact," said political analyst and former MLC Prof K. Nageshwar.
Further, the expansion of the BJP into territories like West Bengal, Odisha and, down south, Telangana, will further weaken the regional players, he added.
In West Bengal, the BJP which got 40 per cent vote share in 2019 Lok Sabha elections, managed to retain it at 37 per cent in the Assembly. The 20 per cent vote share it got in Telangana in the last the Lok Sabha polls is all set to consolidate and even improve in the next general elections.
"Had Modi succeeded in holding simultaneous polls, the adverse impact on regional parties including the ones like the YSR Congress would have been much more," Prof. Nageshwar pointed out.