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Restless regional parties moving to Delhi?

What happens if they loose Chief Ministership?
Top leaders kept PK distance
(Dr Pentapati Pullarao, New Delhi)
There is a strange movement of regional parties to Delhi. Regional parties were supposed to be anti-Delhi and complained that they are dominated by Delhi. But now, we see the strange spectacle of regional parties opening political offices in Delhi and become national players.
KCR, Mamata Banerjee, DMK Stalin have opened offices. These 3 Chief Ministers have also announced All-India ambitions. Mamata Banerjee, Kejriwal, Sharad Pawar, Shiv sena Uddhav Thackeray are contesting elections across India. There is a new ambition amongst regional party Chief Ministers to become national leaders and control the central government.
Earlier regional parties were attached to the Congress or Janata Party from 1977. From 1989, BJP became a national force and the Janata party declined. All Prime ministers of India have been from national parties. V.P. Singh, Chandra Sekhar, Deve Gowda and Gujral were from Janata Party. Vajpayee and Narendra Modi were from the BJP and all the rest were from Congress Party.
Though Mamata Banerjee and DMK are anti- BJP today, both of them were coalition partners of BJP between 1998- 2004. In fact, ADMK and DMK of Tamilnadu were allies of BJP and anyone who formed the central government and got large number of important Ministries. It is another story that their corruption in such ministries landed them in jail.
Regional parties now feel that unless they dominate the national government, they cannot get enough money for their “everything free ‘ schemes ‘ and also ensure that the CBI, ED, Income Tax don’t go after them for alleged corruption.
After the dramatic losses of the Congress in 5- state elections in March, 2022, many anti-BJP regional parties have concluded that it is better for them to enter national politics rather than depend on the losing Congress. Many dream of become big players on the national scene. But sometimes dreams turn into nightmares.
The sycophants of the regional leaders are working full time to make them believe that they are national leaders and India is yearning to make them the Prime minister.


Role of Prashant Kishor?
There is also the Prashant Kishor angle, who advises YS Jagan, KCR, Mamata Banerjee and DMK Stalin. Kishor knows Sharad Pawar and Shiv Sena Thackeray closely. Regional parties with national ambitions may feel that Prashant Kishor will make them the Prime Minister.
Strangely, it is non-Hindi leaders who are mesmerized by Prashant Kishor. But the Hindi belt leaders have shunned Prashant Kishor. Arvind Kejriwal, Akhilesh Yadav, Bihar regional parties, Mayavathi have kept Prashant Kishor at a distance.
Impact of regional parties going national:
a. This development by anti-BJP opposition parties will negatively affect the Congress party, as these parties will directly interact with each other and will avoid the Congress for decisions on national issues. Thus far, the Congress party led them.
b. Earlier, there used to be a big mystery of national politics and how only national parties can handle it. Now regional parties will negotiate and participate in national politics and don’t need the Congress or BJP to hold their hands.
Of course, the big question is why need a national political office in Delhi, when these parties have no presence outside their States ? No doubt, regional leaders are hungry for a bigger role in Delhi. They may not agree to pre-poll alliances which tie them up. They would like to bargain after the elections.


Dangers for regional parties in Delhi:
a. By trying to become national powers, regional parties will be distracted. In the age of national media, physical presence is not needed in Delhi. This maybe a total waste of time and will impact their base.
b. There is also the danger that these opposition parties will start fighting amongst themselves. From afar, leaders look very nice and friendly. But up close, leaders may start hating each other. Remember the old saying “ familiarity breeds contempt “.Their big egos may clash too.
c. Most regional parties have are dynasty parties and such weakness will be exposed and their mis-doings in their home states will not get national attention.
d. Except Arvind Kejriwal, all regional parties are associated with their own state and language. This is a big obstacle for them trying to become national figures.
The extension of regional parties to Delhi will not affect BJP immediately. But the Congress must find a new formula to deal with regional parties. Many regional parties demand that while they want the Congress party, they don’t want the Gandhi leadership. The Congress can solve this problem by allowing someone else to lead the UPA and control the UPA from behind . To quote former American President Barrack Obama, it is called leading from behind.
Delhi offices of regional parties will bustle when the Chief Minister is in Delhi and are like marriage halls on a wedding day, when the building becomes a dreamy palace. But after the marriage is over, the next day, there are a lot of stale flowers and only the watchman. The Delhi political office plans is based on a lot of hope and actually no plan. But who can stop the dream-making machines of sycophants and Prashant Kishor?
DMK Stalin came on a rare Delhi visit last week. Stalin praised Kejriwal and visited Delhi schools and became friends with Kejriwal. But why did not KCR, who is Hindi- speaking, never bother to make friends with Arvind Kejriwal? Good politics need good advisers, not office buildings. The minute a Chief minister loses his job, then these Delhi offices will also close. (Author is prominent political analyst based at New Delhi)

Dr Pentapati Pullarao
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