As soon as the results of the recent Assembly polls in three northeastern states were out, TRS leader and Telangana CM K. Chandrasekhar Rao came out with the proposition of a conglomerate of regional parties to oppose the BJP as well as the Congress in preparation for the next Lok Sabha election. Unless he was acting as a cat’s paw of the BJP to create psychological fears about the Congress’ ability to be the essential leader of anti-BJP forces in India, the Telangana leader seemed to be acting on “sentiment”, much as the stock market does. It is swayed not by substance but any trifling episode at all — no matter how remote or unconnected — to send out signals to investors, often causing transient losses or gains to investors’ portfolios.
Mr Rao did find instant gratification, receiving support from Trinamul Congress’ Mamata Banerjee, whose ambition to be Prime Minister is now quite open as she believes her party will emerge as the biggest regional party in terms of Lok Sabha representation, and also Asaduddin Owaisi. Even a CPI leader pitched in.
In the Northeast, the displacement of the CPI(M) — a party long in decline — in Tripura in emphatic fashion by the BJP is a reality, but the BJP gaining power by tagging on to regional parties elsewhere has transience writ large over it. Poll outcomes in this part of the country don’t impact national affairs overall, and the small states of the region tend to go with the party ruling the Centre for reasons of financial support.
Thus, Mr Rao’s announcement timed with the Northeast results appears to have an air of unreality about it, though he did manage to extract public relations mileage from it for a couple of days.
It seems there’s a long way to go before a regional parties’ grouping can materialise. These are early days yet. Regional parties with the NDA — the present BJP-led alliance — also appear to be harbouring second thoughts on the saffron party. While the Shiv Sena has been doing its own politics for a while to hurt the BJP, the Telugu Desam Party too appears to be having second thoughts on remaining within the NDA.
While nothing can be said with certainty now, there are some suggestions that the TD, with a long record of politics opposing the Congress (though N. Chandrababu Naidu was a Youth Congress leader in his day), could attend a dinner to be hosted by Mrs Sonia Gandhi in an effort to bring about a congenial atmosphere among non-BJP forces, even if they have been generally opposed to the Congress for electoral reasons.
If the past is any guide, “third front” parties have a boost by either the BJP or the Congress.