Regionalism Reloaded

Over the past few days, a lot of equations in Indian politics seem to be changing since the verdict of the recent provincial polls came out. Samajwadi Party is King in Uttar Pradesh led by the unassuming environmental engineer by training Akhilesh Yadav. A 38 year old, led the party from the front changing many a perception of the archaic old school politics of the Lohia-ites, or the socialists. He spoke the lingo of the ‘aam admi’, although thoroughly populist rhetoric. It is certainly a breath of fresh air. The Trinamool Congress, the major player in West Bengal made a dent as the principal opposition force in the North Eastern state of Manipur.  It is slowly expanding its base in the Bengali speaking areas in the North East and filling the vacuum in the fragmented clan oriented politics of the region.

The Akali Dal in Punjab won the elections this without much of the contribution from the BJP. Odisha has seen a single party dominate the political landscape over the last 15 years with the BJD. It looks like that the dominance is set to continue. What Trinanamool Congress offered Bengal is not only an option from the ineffective governance of the Left over the last three decades but also an opportunity for the Bengali Identity to emerge from the Left rubric. Bengal used to contribute the maximum number of Left MP’s to Sansad Bhawan, but the power centre of the Left remained in Kerala. In short Bengal lost its voice in National politics. Its voice got drowned out in the cacophony of leftist jargon. Regional Parties are vital for regional development, Tamil Nadu and Bihar have showed the way in this respect.  Regional Identity with aspiration based politics is what made the JDU successful in Bihar. Regional identity based politics transcends religion, hence is a strong adhesive.

The Third Front is a political experiment bound to fail as it would require either of the national parties to prop up the arrangement. In the following days we can see the two major National Parties decline, as they have been unable to live up their promises. Most of the regional parties have charismatic leaders. From Nitish to Mamata to Naveen to now Akhilesh, they are populist with governance at the heart of their agenda. The National players lack strong presentable leadership as the top leadership in the BJP are competent but indecisive, and the Congress unable to convert Rahulji’s popularity in to votes.

May be we are heading towards a more federal structure indeed.

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