ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Regional Betrayal

Regional parties are stronger than ever before, but they are no different from their national counterparts.

In 2009, when the Congress Party increased its tally in the Lok Sabha elections, it was asked if the party was now going to regain its earlier political predominance. This followed the resurgence of the Congress in the parliamentary elections after close to two decades in India’s largest state, its near sweep in Andhra Pradesh and its retention of power in the assembly elections in the same southern state. There was even talk of the regionalisation of the polity having reached a plateau. The spectacular failure of the so-called “Third Front” – a group of regional parties along with the left – only contributed to the belief that the Grand Old Party was headed for a renewed “national” role in politics.

Yet, after what is widely seen as a disastrous performance in governance over the past three years, as head of the second United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, the Congress stands substantially weakened once more as a national force. It is not that the principal national opposition party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, has gained from the Congress decline. In the recent assembly elections in five states, it has been the regional parties – who many had claimed had reached the limits of their growth – which have re-emerged as pivotal players in the national arena, and on whose support the government’s survival continues to hinge.

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