The Andhra CM seems determined to form a government at the Centre through the proposed new front led by regional parties.

Will Naidus new regional front work Here are six challenges that lie aheadFacebook/Telugu Desam Party
news Politics Thursday, May 31, 2018 - 17:02

The three-day 36th Mahanadu of Andhra Pradesh’s ruling Telugu Desam Party, which concluded in Vijayawada on Tuesday, was marked by a strong resolve from its leader and Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu to form a government at the Centre through the proposed new front led by regional parties.

Naidu, who played kingmaker during the regime of the United Front in his capacity as its convener, seems determined to take sweet revenge against his friend-turned-foe Prime Minister Narendra Modi by playing a similar role in 2019. But here are six major challenges the front, consisting of regional parties, is likely to face in the process of realising Naidu’s dream.

Short-lived coalitions

The history of coalition governments at the Centre led by regional parties reveals that they have failed to survive the full five-year term in the past. The National Front government, which had TDP founder NT Rama Rao as its president and VP Singh as convener, lasted hardly two years (1989 to 1991). The government collapsed when National Front leaders tried to bring on board the AIADMK against the wish of its local rival in Tamil Nadu, the DMK.

Later, the United Front government, led by Naidu as its convener, came to power with the coalition of 13 regional parties in 1996 but collapsed in 1998 in a similar fashion, after hardly two years in power.

Torso without head

The proposed new front appears to be headless since there is no consensus over leadership among the regional parties. The clash of personalities and tussle for the coveted PM post keeps the leadership issue fragile in spite of the talk of the new front gathering steam ahead of the coming general elections. Consequently, the regional players are failing to project any leader for the proposed front yet.

Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, his Andhra Pradesh counterpart Naidu and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee are the top guns eyeing the coveted post. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar may join the list if his latest noises of dissent over the note ban and special category status for his state are any indication, suggesting a likely break-up with the NDA.

Lack of unity

The regional satraps more often than not agree to disagree. The political survival of Naidu and KCR hinges on clashes revolving around regional sentiment and interests. The turf wars between Mamata and the Left parties in West Bengal, SP and BSP in UP, and AIADMK and DMK in Tamil Nadu make it unlikely that they will come together. For them the enemy is common but a united fight is doubtful. Congress joining the front as a partner complicates the matter further. With the TRS is facing a formidable challenge from the Congress in Telangana, it cannot afford to align with any coalition arrangement in which its principal rival is a partner.

Clash of interests

After all, the regional parties thrive on their local interests. They are expected to be the defenders of their regions when their interests come in conflict with the neighbours. Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are engaged in pitched battles over Cauvery water. Andhra Pradesh and Telangana are crossing swords over the Krishna and the Godavari issues. Odisha, headed by Biju Janata Dal’s Naveen Patnaik, joined the issue over sharing of the Godavari waters with Andhra Pradesh. Neighbours West Bengal and Odisha are fighting over the GI tagging for rasgulla and the origin of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. The regional parties based in these states are obviously forced to sail along with the tide for survival.

Undependable allies

History shows that regional parties are driven by political compulsions and expediencies for survival. Hence, adhocism and oscillation will most often decide their course with respect to aligning with national parties. Almost all regional parties are credited with a history of sailing with both the Congress and the BJP without any ideological basis and fixed policy direction. The National Front government survived in power with outside support from both Congress and BJP during 1989-1991. Similarly, the United Front government was installed with external support from the Congress in 1996.

Lack of common agenda

Naidu, Mamata, BSP-SP, Left and the Congress – all want to see their common rival voted out of power in the 2019 elections. But all of them are conspicuously lacking a common agenda in line with the people’s mandate, in the event of their succeeding in the mission. Sectarian approach is bound to take precedence over national perspective while framing an agenda.

The clash of regional interests in allocation of funds under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, allotment of railway projects, national highway projects and others may in all likelihood upset the applecart with the regional parties vying with one another for their pound of flesh.

Become a TNM Member for just Rs 999!

You can also support us with a one-time payment.

Rs 200Rs 500Rs 1500Custom