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Opportunity Beckons Regional Parties
by Dr. Rajinder Puri Bookmark and Share

Bihar leaders are on the right track. Mr. Laloo Yadav and Mr. Nitish Kumar cobbled an alliance to better the BJP in ten assembly bye-elections. This offers proof that this writer’s prescription for creating a credible opposition suggested immediately after the NDA government assumed office had merit. It was proposed that regional parties unite nationwide with a federal party constitution and create a viable national alternative. But there is a long way to go. If regional parties can stay the course they have more than even chance to wrest power in the next general election. This is what they must do.

First, they must junk the Congress but welcome all Congress leaders. Media attributed the by-poll victory to Congress and allies. The victory was of regional parties and Congress. Congress is history. The Congress could have reinvented itself as the Indian Federal Congress. It missed the bus. If competent Congress leaders do not join the emerging federal party they may be ignored.

Secondly a meeting of all regional parties should be convened. Let that be done by a leader publicly committed to abjuring any ministerial post in the centre or the state but confining himself to creating the new alternative. That would give him moral authority to influence other leaders. He would fulfill a historic task.

Thirdly, the meeting of regional leaders must approve the constitution of a federal party. A draft constitution can be made available in a day. In the first instance merger may be only at the parliamentary level. Regional parties may retain their respective identities until satisfied to voluntarily merge their identities fully with the new party.

Fourthly all MPs of the regional parties who most likely will number around a hundred must approach the Speaker for recognition. They must elect a leader who would be Leader of Opposition in Parliament. They should form a shadow cabinet and closely monitor the government and offer alternative ideas and constructive criticism on all issues. Critics dismiss regional leaders as corrupt. Past corruption cannot be undone. But reform is always possible. We have to function with the politicians available. Critics should note that Congress and BJP leaders were responsible for Coalgate.

Fifthly, the new party must endorse a nationwide movement in each state of the Union through organizations of the regional party allies. The movement should focus on two major blunders of the founding fathers of the freedom struggle without rectifying which this nation will never achieve good governance and stability. The spirit of the Partition must be undone. The distorted interpretation of our explicitly written Constitution must end. Propagating the truth about these two blunders will bury the Congress legacy forever as Mahatma Gandhi had willed.

If regional leaders want to be serious power players they must follow a strategy above parochial interests. If they do it they can realistically aspire for power in the centre after the next general election. Are they up to it?

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Comments on this Article

Comment Your suggestions are good, but having witnessed Indian Politicians for six decades I can say with confidence that there will be no takers. Indian politicians don't give a hoot about their community, region or the country. all they want is to become the prime minister.
In 1955, while living in Singapore I had a discussion with someone from Malabar. And he suggested that the best solution for India was to become a federation, but selfishness and dynastic dreams has prevented it from happening.
Having watched the emergence of Narendra Modi as a dynamic new generation leader, and BJP having dumped the antiquated leaders like Advani and Joshi, is a cue that other parties should bring younger unselfish persons to be their leaders.

08/28/2014 07:51 AM

Comment To the five suggestions made, Mr. Puri himself has added the caveat in the concluding paragraph that the regional players "must follow a strategy above parochial interests". Which regional leader in India can you vouch for, Mr. Puri, to be in this category? Each one of them has his own personal fiefdom to cater to. The only change (and that too a momentary one) that has happened is the coming together of Lalu and Nitish to fight against the common enemy, the BJP. Just wait for few weeks and see what happens to this so-called alliance! Few months before the general elections, there are talks of a third front which no-one takes seriously anymore in this country. This year it was the Left which tried to cobble-up one such entity, to fight its own decline but unfortunately found no takers among Indian electorate or other political outfits. What you are talking about is nothing but yet another version of this tried and failed third front experiment. India has hopefully moved far ahead of the machinations of such meaningless groups who have nothing to offer to match our aspirations.

08/28/2014 01:19 AM

Comment I see this as a attempt by unlike minded people trying to forge alliance to protect their ill gotten wealth and ensure seats of power for their next generation family members.
Just cobbling up a common manifesto (declaring policies of being pro poor, pro agriculture, pro industry, pro FII , non-communal, etc...) to fool the public will not ensure a stable opposition.
Mr Puri we should not forget how the Janata Party disintegrated post Emergency.

08/27/2014 21:02 PM

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