Arvind doing well since 2014 in Punjab
Actively campaigning in 3 states
(Dr Pentapati Pullarao)
The first regional party to capture power was the DMK in 1967 in Tamilnadu. The defeat of Congress in 1977 led to many new parties being formed and since then regional parties have been a permanent fixture in Indian politics. Regional parties have even led central governments in between 1996-1998. Regional parties have been active coalition partners in many central governments.
There are two rules in Indian politics. There are many states where only the national parties are contenders for power. But if a regional party gains success in that state, then the Congress party rapidly declines. The second rule is that no regional party has been able to form a government in more than one state. These rules may change overtime. But right now, these two rules are supreme.
Many tall leaders like Mulayam Singh Yadav, Karunanidhi , Sharad Pawar tried to spread to new states and failed. The only exception is Arvind Kejriwal who got four MPs in Punjab in 2014 and also became the official opposition party in Punjab in 2017. This is a very big achievement and Kejriwal has done what no other regional party did.
Kejriwal has never been shy of his ambitions. After becoming Delhi Chief minister in 2013, Kejriwal immediately contested the 2014 parliament elections in a big way. Kejriwal did not succeed nationally. But his name became famous. Since 2013, Kejriwal has been elected Chief Minister of Delhi thrice and is now using the 5-state elections to become a national leader.
Status of Kejriwal in the 5- states:
- Kejriwal has an active election campaign in Punjab, Uttarkhand and Goa. These states are small and Kejriwal is making a big impact. In Punjab, surveys say that Kejriwal is leading everyone including Congress party which rules Punjab. In Goa and Uttarakhand, Kejriwal is definitely going to win a good percentage of votes.
- Goa is a very cosmopolitan place ,with high literacy and a huge settler population. Goa is dominated by Congress Party and the BJP and the same politicians for the last 40 years. Kejriwal says he represents change and the other parties have been given many chances. Right now, surveys say that Kejriwal has crossed 20% voting .
- Uttarakhand looks very much like Goa. It is a small state and the Congress and BJP have dominated Uttarakhand since 2002 and even before when it was part of Uttar Pradesh. Kejriwal is asking for change and surveys say that he has crossed 20% of the votes.
Impact if Kejriwal does well in 5-state elections :
a. If Kejriwal wins Punjab, then that would be enough for him to claim leadership of opposition and displace the Congress and leaders like Mamata Banerjee. It would be a severe setback to Congress, since Rahul Gandhi changed Capt. Amarinder Singh and selected Channi as the new Chief Minister. The BJP has very little presence in Punjab. Right Now, Congress Chief Minister Channi is under serious attack for illegal sand-mining. Anything can happen.
b. In Uttarakhand, entry of Kejriwal will mean that both the Congress and BJP may be sidelined in future. If Kejriwal does well in Uttarakhand, then Congress and BJP will dump all their old leaders, since they are stale and public fed up with the same faces for decades.
c. In Goa, like in Uttarakhand, Kejriwal faces the BJP and Congress and it is a small state. If Kejriwal gets his 20% votes, then there will be rapid challenges to the 2 old national parties, since for decades they have the same leaders. Kejriwal represents change.
d. Kejriwal is well known in North Indian states, since the same TV and newspapers covers such areas. The Hindi media gives wide coverage to Kejriwal. Leaders like Mamata Banerjee, Sharad Pawar and others have to struggle for media attention in north India.
People seem to be attracted to Kejriwal for following reasons:
- Kejriwal has been in office since 2013 and no corruption charges have been made and has a simple image. No huge convoys, no extravagant spending of government money, no chartered planes, no gangs of relatives running everywhere, no caste influences. A big contrast to Chief Ministers we know.
- In various welfare measures, Kejriwal has ensured that all his schemes are “universal” and includes everyone. This has ensured that no section is unhappy with him. Many Chief Ministers implement caste-based schemes, which attract anger amongst those who are excluded.
- Just now, Kejriwal has launched a digital campaign, asking Delhi voters to make videos and send their friends a message to “give Kejriwal a chance”. There are a crore Uttarakhandis and Punjabis living in Delhi and nearby areas. No other party can mobilize such numbers. Definitely, this digital campaign will create momentum.
The election process started about a month ago and trend has been positive for Kejriwal. Of course, there is time till February 20, 2022 for the election and changes may happen. As the great French economist Proudhon said 200 years ago: “The future is unpredictable in countless ways”. One thing is sure. If Kejriwal wins Punjab, then he will be the opposition face to challenge Narendra Modi.