Regional Political Parties – danger to Democracy and India?

With the recent political divorce between the BJP and JD(U) after 17 years of their political marriage, and with the talks / speculations by top regional leaders over the creation of a Third Front before / after the next general election, it becomes difficult to check Congress led UPA, which has the dubious distinction of scams and corruptions, forming the next Government again in Delhi. With the next general election some months away, political parties started playing their pawns in a very calculated manner – a game where every individual party wants to win, may result in a big loss to the Indian union!!

Whatever it is…

The regional parties are all set to play a big role next time; may not be good at all for India and for its democracy. The recent political developments may go to the extent that the grand showdown between the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty and the messiah of reforms in Gujarat become a non-existent matter to decide the fate of India’s future. Even if there is a Third Front government comes to power, the constituents of it are so individualistic with diverse local agendas, the leaders are so ambitious and so short-sighted, lasting a full 5-year term may become a concern for Indian democracy, Indian economy and reforms.

The irony is, that, no Third Front government can come to power on its own without the inside or outside support of the BJP or the Congress. Moreover, it is really hard to understand the obvious unwritten understanding between like-minded political parties, which is being coined by various regional leaders for the formation of a Third Front without the Congress or the BJP. It had happened in the past – 1979, 1989 and 1996, may repeat again in 2014.

Coming to the root cause of this problem, it is true that the regional parties are formed with a separate mandate and a goal or as a division of a big party on personal / ideological ground, before and after India’s independence.

Their goal might be a claim or otherwise –

  • that there are political/economic bias against the state’s wish and/or right (TrinaMul Congress TMC-West Bengal, Biju Janata Dal BJD-Odisha, Asom Gana Parishad AGP – Assam, Shiromani Akali Dal SAD-Punjab, Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party MGP-Goa, Shiv Sena -Maharastra, Sikkim Sangram Parishad SSP-Sikkim), or
  • on a language basis (mostly against Hindi – variants of Dravid Munnetra Kazhagam DMK/AIDMK/PMK -Tamil Nadu and Telugu Desham Party TDP-Andhra Pradesh), or
  • to create a division of a state and to come to power (Telengana Rastriya Samiti TRS–Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha JMM– Jharkhand), or
  • on a caste or religion basis (Bahujan Samaj Party BSP-UP/Bihar/Delhi, Muslim Majlis Uttar Pradesh), or
  • on a individualistic charisma to hold power (Rashtriya Janta Dal RJD-Bihar, Janta Dal Secular JD(S)-Karnataka, Janta Dal United JD(U)-Bihar/UP, Maharastra Navnirman Sena MNS-Maharastra, Karnataka Janata Paksha KJP-Karnataka, Samajwadi Party SP-UP/Bihar, Samta Party UP/Bihar, Lokshakti Party – Karnataka), or
  • to be the center of attention (Odisha Jan Morcha OJM-Odisha, Praja Rajyam– Andhra Pradesh) and so on…

Whatever it is, it is true that most of the times their (regional parties) claim over the so called bias in economic share, language participation, power balance, cultural differences, political representation are legitimate. At present, regional parties are dominant over more than a fifteen states – Maharastra, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Haryna, Odisha, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Manipur, Meghalaya, Sikkim, Kerala, and Jammu and Kashmir. With the present vote base and support, it is definite that the local parties are going to influence the Indian politics for at least a decade or so.

Must be alarming for BJP and Congress of course. But, do not we think that some how the BJP and the Congress parties are a party to their creation and existence? – compulsion or an opportunity?

Their rise is definitely a major concern for the major political parties like BJP and Congress and it creates a question mark on the democracy, economy and federalist structure of Indian union, coordination among states , etc. With no single party (most likely) winning 273+ seats, creation of the next government whether it is Third Front or UPA or NDA or any other new coalition will largely depend upon the regional parties; horse trading will be a major concern. With multi-party involvement and with differences in ideology, the stability of such government, the economic development, the reforms, the law and order issue, etc ., will definitely suffer.

It is true that most of the times agenda and ideology of regional and national political parties do not match, and quite different from the federal agenda. It is also true that the local power equations and compulsions are so intense, that they won’t be thinking of the country – India; instead they’ll always think of their states only. To maintain their vote bank in their states (largely based on caste, language, regionalism and religion), they will never support an alliance or coalition even with a slight difference in the common minimum programs; irrespective of whether their action is triggering an un-necessary mid-term election as in 1996 (AIDMK withdrew support from NDA government) or creating a chaos as in 2012 (TMC withdrew support from UPA government) and so on…

Saying all this, one has also to understand and accept the fact that both the Congress and BJP are failing in uniting their coalition partners and the voters intact, mainly due to their poor governance in some states, personal agenda at some places in general, and lack of mass leaders in those states in particular. If the major national parties like BJP and Congress want to expand their base across India, then they must understand the local problems in particular and should go to the root cause of their loss of base in those states in general; grass level effort is required, not political chintan meetings at Surajkund or at Goa. They must groom local leaders, check corruptions, maintain discipline inside the party, take strong action against individuals violating party principles, learn from their earlier mistakes, and abolish dynasty rules in those states. Fortune follows effort, failing which the problems will intensify only.

In the present context, the teachings of Chanakya are definitely relevant. We have to understand that the existence and formation of the states is for creating brotherhood and Indianness among the people of the country, and for the distribution of power to core of the democracy – the citizens of this country, and for the unity in diversity, not for the division of the country on the basis of language, development, religion, caste and so on… Country’s growth, aspiration, stability, economic power, diplomatic power is more important than the individual states’ growth, stability and aspiration. We have to understand that it is India first, not Odisha, or West Bengal or Karnataka or Gujarat or Tamil Nadu or … A modern Chanakya is definitely needed.

Aamjunta – what do you say? Remember “Prosperity forsake even a lucky one, if he/she acts without a foresight” and we all want a prosperous India.

Jai Hind.

32 Responses

  1. Great Analysis!
    We can not help but just watch the regional parties being fostered in many states by the people. I feel it is because people themselves want to continue their corrupt ways starting from an auto driver to an entrepreneur. I also think regional parties getting into major role will increase discontentment and check the progress of any new government which is formed.

    There is a fundamental flaw in the constitution which does not put a restriction on the number of political parties that can exist at a given point in time in a state.

  2. These political parties are no more good to the society and they are nothing but just a bunch of loser.
    Very well written as always…

  3. Fully agree with your analysis and the list. True, their goal is not to serve India, rather to serve their own pocket. The hunger of power is the culprit. A modern Chanakya? Modi/Subramanian?? Lets wait and watch – but lets vote.

  4. Great analysis aamjunta.

    The BJP and the Congress are equally responsible for the rise of the regional parties in India. For instance, Shiv Sena was created by Congress and so also MNS (believe to be). The rise of BSP, RJD, SP and many other is definitely due to the political ambitions of Congress.

    Coming to the recent development on splits of NDA – both BJP and JD(U) are equally responsible. If you Nitish Kumar is thinking of Muslim votes and does not like Modi becoming PM, then why BJP is supporting corrupt politicians? Both are responsible, the sad part is no one is thinking of the country.

  5. Agree that the regional parties are creating problem to Indian democracy. Not only democracy, they also pose a threat to the internal security, some times due to their internal link with terror outfits and maoists. The most worrisome point is the dis-integration of India. If the regional parties are not controlled, then we may see another Europe in India.

  6. The regional parties are clear and present danger to the unity of India. Nehru divided India on linguistic basis and the result is there for all to see. These parties come forth just to further their divisive politics.

  7. Great article. I agree on following Chanakya nitis as they are farsighted and for general good.

  8. Thanks Saru, Vijay, Sampath, Sudheer, Chiranjeevi, Harsha and Prof. Shanmuga…

    We all are waiting for the modern Chanakya 🙂 lets hope for the best.

  9. If regional political parties only think of their own state and ignore the rest of India it would be a tragedy if they came to power.

    I wonder if there will be a change in leadership in the Congress. Sonia, Rahul and MS have no leadership qualities and aren’t articulate enough. They can’t think on their feet. MS wants to ensure every t is crossed and every i dotted before he opens his mouth. At least, MS did open up the Indian economy in the early 90s. But apart from that it has been one step forward and three steps back in 20+ years and the worst corruption excesses under his and Sonia’s rule.

  10. Agree with you to a large extent.

    Regional parties thrive for two obvious reasons, I think. (1) National parties fail to do justice to certain regions or states; and (2) Selfish motives that invariably drive every politician. Regional parties help any Ram, Shyam or Hari to amass power (and hence wealth)…

  11. Thanks Kayemofnmy… Looks like there is no major change in the Congress leadership. They have again proved this in the recent Bihar assembly confidence motion and cabinet reshuffle.

  12. Thank Matheikal. The reasons you mentioned are absolutely right.

  13. The thing is that in order to stay relevant, these parties have to formulate the politics of controversies and confrontation. This creates a toxic environment. Other than that, most of these parties are not more than person / family controlled gangs

  14. Certainly it is a danger to India. Not only India, it is also a danger to our neighbours as the regional parties of bordering states such as Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, and others brings more complications to bi-lateral relationship.

  15. Thanks Uma and Puru.

    @Uma – You are right, the regional parties may pose danger to India’s diplomatic relation with our neighbours.

    @Puru: True, it is personified only… main nahini to koi nahini 🙂

  16. Certainly they are not good for India, forget about democracy. Good analysis Aam Junta.

  17. Very detailed analysis. By far the most comprehensive, i’ve came across.
    Coalition dharma is a bog headache for any of party. Especially in a diversified setup like India, but it cannot be ignored that chances are very low that Either Congress or BJP will be able to form government on their own. Although, realising this they have been trying to strenghthen the local machinery, yet it would be tough to compete with the regional parties in their own domains.

  18. Regional parties are here to stay. They represent regional aspirations. As much as we wish, we cannot ignore regional parties. In a way this represents India’s pluralIty. Formation and formulation have to evolve to deal with diversity and manage it. I guess way India is governed has to be relooked. Instead of parliamentary system, why not go for a presidential system, to say it very simplistically. President will be voted by all India. President will choose his team. President will look after defence, foreign policy etc. States will manage their economy, employment etc.

  19. Useful information shared..Iam very happy to read this article..thanks for giving us nice info.Fantastic walk-through. I appreciate this post.

  20. good analysis aamjunta, but I think we are essentially federal in nature. That has not been honored. If we are talking about a balanced progress, then we need to decentralize, there is a huge neocolonialism activity happening.

  21. Now Congress is telling that voting in favour of Nitish in Bihar is a strategy!! That time will say – how effective is this strategy!

    Very good analysis aamjunta.

  22. India struggling with food, education, health, culture, old-age issues, incursions, terrorism, Maoism, rapes, acid-attacks, scams, no-governance, etc.etc. But ‘netas’ are busy playing games of secularism and communalism ! …………….Wakwas bandh karo !! Aur jago !!!

  23. With Telengana in, don’t you think this problem will get further complicated? What is happening is just demon-crisis in democracy!!

  24. […] Regional Political Parties – danger to Democracy and India? […]

  25. Your list of regional parties bound to grow with many more new political parties in future. If the politicians are responsible for these divisions, then we the citizens of the great country are equally responsible for accepting their divisions.

    Thank you very much for bringing the broader prospect of Indian politics.

  26. Nice analysis

  27. […] Regional Political Parties – danger to Democracy and India? […]

  28. […] Regional Political Parties – danger to Democracy and India? […]

  29. True observations. Lets wait and watch.

  30. Tremendous issues here. I’m very satisfied to see your article.
    Thanks a lot and I am looking ahead to touch you. Will you please drop me a e-mail?

  31. I have been browsing online more than 3 hours today, yet I never found any
    interesting article like yours. It’s pretty worth enough for me.

  32. Good analysis. True also. I think the last election put a halt to many north Indian regional parties.

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