The case of an opposition unity around a federal front does not highlight the fact that most of the regional parties are Congress twigs which grew as family firms
Dr Duggaraju Srinivasa Rao
The swearing in ceremony of HD Kumara Swamy as the Chief Minister of Karnataka and presence of all most entire non the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders on the dais was projected as a great political significant event and the coming up unity of parties to take on Narendra Modi’s might in 2019.
The by-poll results especially in Uttar Pradesh where the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) candidate supported by the Samajvadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samajvadi Party (BSP) has won by about 49 thousand votes is announced as the basis for the political mathematics going in favour of non-BJP conglomeration. The West Bengal CM Mamata Benarjee claimed that, “My federal front idea has won the election”. The other regional party leader Chandra Babu Naidu of Telugu Desam Party (TDP) has said that, “The same results will be repeated in 2019” and patted himself for his timing of his disassociation with the BJP. The media lead by some motivated journalists has written obituary to Modi regime and talked about the resurgence of the Congress. However, the fact remains that neither is the BJP losing nor the Congress is gaining but the regional parties are claiming for more space in the national politics.
Bloodlines of the Congress
For the regional parties the democratic values and political principles are never a strong point since allmost all these parties were offshoots of the Congress party. Many of these regional party founders were with the Congress party for a long time, imbibed its culture of corruption and divisive politics and came out when the first family of the party stood as an obstacle for their personal ambitions.
The other regional parties which claim to have started against the political culture of the Congress party are now ready to join hands with the Congress making themselves as suspects of their proclaimed ideology. The regional parties, with whatever motive they have formed initially, have over the years turned out to be the carbon copies of the Congress in running the party as a family concern.
Anyone who saw the recent photos where the leaders of regional parties were holding hands together can easily recollect the photos of the late eighties where similar attempts were made by the then regional party leaders in their attempt to form a ‘Third Front’. Regional party leaders on the dais in Bengaluru like Akhilesh Yadav, Tejaswi Yadav, HD Kumaraswamy are not the leaders who have grown in politics on their own, but came into positions as the designated political heirs of their fathers. Chandrababu Naidu’s case is worse than others as he usurped the party by back stabbing his own father-in-law NT Rama Rao, who founded the party on strong anti-Congress view. In fact, when NT Rama Rao was going round the state of Andhra Pradesh with the slogan of Andhrula Aatmagouravam (Honour of Andhras), Chandrababu Naidu was with the Congress and was against the very slogan of Andhrula Aatmagouravam, the same slogan now he shamelessly uses in his anti Modi diatribe. He was against
regional politics and was an ardent admirer of Indira Gandhi and her dictatorial emergency regime till his father in law NT Rama Rao threw out the Congress party from Andhra Pradesh.
All these second generation regional party leaders are without any political merit. For them regional sentiments are weapons to garner power. Whenever they came to power, they ran a corrupt administration and looted the treasury for the personal gains. A leader like Lalu Prasad Yadav, serving a jail term in fodder scam itself, is an evidence for that.
Decoding the Federal Front
A close look at the the proposed Federal Front, which Mamata Benarjee proclaims as her own vision, reveals and confirms that it is not a political front with common ideology but a conglomeration of certain political families which want to establish their regional hegemony through their family empire. The original proposer of the Federal Front, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhara Rao (KCR) heads the youngest regional party TRS. The party since its inception is a family concern. With KCR heading the party, his nephew and son in the cabinet and his daughter as the Lok Sabha member, the control of the party is absolute. Every wing of the party has his own relatives in key positions.
The oldest regional party which came to power is the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK). Originally started with the Tamil identity politics, the DMK party was slowly usurped by the party patriarch Karunanidhi and his family. Now Karunanidhi’s son MK Stalin is the working president of the party with the eldest son Alaghiri controlling the southern wing of the party, his daughter Kanimozhi being an MP and his grandnephew Marans controlling the financial empires of the party, DMK is out and out a family run company like and does not qualify as a political party run on democratic principles.
One regional party leader who is the older by age and younger by the party’s age is Sharad Pawar. His Maharashtra-based Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) which was formed because of its opposition to Sonia Gandhi, an Italian born lady, leadership has no compulsion in joining UPA under the leadership of same Italian lady. It is out and out the power hunger which makes Sharad Pawar to be on any side where there is chance to enjoy power. He opposed the family control of the Congress but runs his NCP as family party. His daughter is his political heir.
This is the position of the regional parties. They run areas like the princely states of pre- independent India. Those princely states through their selfish interests helped the British to establish their rule. Those small princely states are without national outlook and are devoid of national interests. Those rulers of that time were only interested in their power and family wealth and the ways to pass on power to their sons. The working of the regional parties is no different from those princely states. The regional parties want power and positions for their own families and wish to have control on power including money power. The damage those princely states have done to India, can’t be repeated through the regional parties.
(The writer is a retired Professor and political columnist based in Vijayawada)