The Rise of Regional Parties: Assembly Elections in 2022 will test BJP


The Rise of Regional Parties: Assembly Elections in 2022 will test BJP

Notwithstanding the debate around the possibility of a third front, regional parties like the  Trinamool Congress (TMC) in West Bengal are seeing opportunities at the national level with increased infighting within the Congress and the BJP. CM Mamata Banerjee could well be looking at a bigger role on the national stage. Delhi’s chief minister (CM) and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal is looking to increase AAP’s presence in Gujarat.


Factional dissent within Congress

The Congress has seeing factional dissent in Punjab, Rajasthan, Bihar, Jharkhand and even in Maharashtra.

The Congress leadership seems to have lost touch with the situation on the ground, writes Shashi Shekhar (editor-in-chief, Hindustan). “Take the example of the Manipur and Goa assemblies where there has been no clear mandate for the last five years. The Congress did not seize this opportunity to make its presence felt, leaving the field wide open to the BJP.

“In Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh (MP) and Chhattisgarh, the Congress did well and formed governments after the assembly polls which were held before the Lok Sabha elections. It should have then chosen younger generation leaders like Sachin Pilot in Rajasthan and Jyotiraditya Scindia in MP to take charge…… the party leadership chose not to. Today, Scindia has added heft to the BJP in MP and Pilot may well chart his own course if he is ignored much longer.”

In Uttar Pradesh, “the BJP has won over another Congress leader, Jitin Prasada” who will be used by the BJP as a “Brahmin face, to woo the community in the upcoming assembly elections in several states. Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma is another example of how people who were considered insignificant and ignored by the Congress leadership, have been utilised effectively by the BJP.”


No smooth sailing for BJP

Even for the BJP, it has not been  all smooth sailing. In  West Bengal for example, several leaders who had left the TMC have abandoned the saffron party and gone back to the TMC. “There are also rumours of discontent with the state BJP leadership in Uttar Pradesh (UP)…..Across states ruled by the BJP, dissidents and those with ambitions to higher positions are voicing their dissatisfaction.”


Opportunities for regional parties

Regional parties are therefore, seeing more opportunities opening up, thanks to the infighting within the Congress and the BJP.  Various factors favour regional parties over national parties today, argues Shekhar. “In many of the recent assembly elections, voters have preferred regional parties and local satraps over national parties.” Delhi and West Bengal are examples.  “The second reason is that some regional satraps have understood the BJP’s political playbook and they are using this to their advantage.

“This is why they believe that, with the right combination of strategy and coordination, they can make inroads into the political power structure on the national stage. Assembly elections are slated to be held in several states in the next two years and will prove to be a litmus test for many regional parties and their national aspirations. However, the question will remain whether this is possible while Modi and Shah are in power.”

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