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Lesson for Congress: Allying with regional parties is the way forward

By Vikas Sv

What unfolded in the Karnataka assembly today will embolden the regional parties for sure. The BJP, despite emerging as the largest party in Karnataka Assembly elections, was unable to form the government as two parties with lesser seats came together. It has not been long since Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh were wrested from the BJP after SP and BSP came together.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi

Even in Bihar, the single largest party is RJD, though its a different matter that the alliance couldn't last long and the BJP joined hands with Nitish Kumar to topple the 'Mahagathbandhan' government.

With less than 50 seats in Lok Sabha and defeat after defeat is states, it is clear that Congress alone cannot take on the BJP. And even the Congress is realising it as they did ally with the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh and RJD in Bihar.

Regional parties can indeed emerge as a formidable front to stop the BJP, but for that they must keep their egos aside and find a common ground to unite. During the two terms of the UPA, Congress was the pillar which held other parties together. But the Congress of now is not the Congress of the past which can holds other parties together. So, for this regional parties alliance to work, there has to be a rallying point, a common ground which can hold them together.

For Congress to be accepted by the regional parties in the alliance, they must first assure that they would not insist on making Rahul Gandhi the Prime Minister. In fact, Rahul Gandhi's recent statement suggesting that he is willing to become PM, may have done more harm to Congress' chances of finding allies than good.

Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao and his West Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee have travelled length and breadth of the country in the last two months to convince regional parties to join hands. Mamata, no doubt, is a charismatic leader who, according to some, has prime ministerial ambitions. But will she be accepted as the leader of the united opposition.

K Chandrasekhar Rao on April 29 met DMK president M Karunanidhi at his residence and dined with MK Stalin while the two spoke to Mamata Banerjee over the phone.

Mamata Banerjee had in March met Sonia Gandhi and both leaders held discussions on plans to stop the BJP in 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Banerjee, who was in Delhi for a few days in March, had said that the Congress should help the 'anti-BJP' front which the regional parties are trying to forge. Banerjee is leaving no stone unturned to galvanise the opposition parties for a united fight against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

On March 27, the TMC supremo visited Parliament and met leaders of several opposition parties, including Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar and Shiv Sena parliamentarian Sanjay Raut. A week before that, K Chandrashekar Rao called on Banerjee in Kolkata and both stressed on the need for a front comprising of regional parties to stop the BJP. KCR had earlier called for a non-BJP and non-Congress front.

So, all these developments show that regional parties are on the move to take on the BJP in a big way in 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Whether this will actually materialise is something that depends on how accomodative these parties are towards each other.

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