“The emergence of regional parties as major centres of power in India’s politics, economics, and society is one of the most important developments in the country’s post-independence history,” Milan Vaishnav from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace said in an article on the rise and influence of regional parties in India.
“And come the general election in 2014, regional parties will play a pivotal role in helping to influence the formation of the next union government. It is even possible that India’s next general elections will produce a “third front” government headed by the leader of a regional party,” he wrote.
Negating several myths about regional parties in India, the US think tank said a common myth about regional parties is that their rise, by definition, has eroded and continues to erode the stature of national parties.
“But in reality, after a period of unprecedented growth in the standing of regional parties during the late 1980s and early 1990s, the pattern of electoral competition at the national level has achieved a surprisingly stable balance of power,” the article said.
On another myth that regional parties rule the region, Vaishnav said currently, chief ministers from the Congress or the BJP call the shots in two-thirds of the largest states — 14 of 22 to be exact, while regional parties control a third.
In the late 1990s, the numbers were completely reversed.
Regional parties’ control over states peaked in 1997 and has been on the downswing ever since.
It also commented on the generally accepted view that regional parties are transforming governance and listed the success of several chief ministers from the Congress and BJP.
“For instance, two long-serving BJP chief ministers — Raman Singh of Chhattisgarh (in office for nine years) and Shivraj Singh Chouhan of Madhya Pradesh (seven years) — are tipped to win reelection once again this December. Voters have repeatedly rewarded both national party leaders for engineering economic turnarounds in two chronically poor states,” it said.
“Sheila Dikshit, the Congress chief minister of Delhi, has been in office for 14 years. Although Dikshit is locked in a tough reelection fight (in large part due to persistent inflation and high cost of food), she has won three consecutive elections thanks to a track record of improving governance and developing Delhi’s infrastructure,” it said.
It also noted that increasing the role of regional parties in foreign policy is exaggerated. (PTI)