Opinion: Regional parties should join hands to defeat BJP

Hyderabad: The decisive mandate in Delhi has thrown up two major takeaways – rejection of the politics of polarization and the need for the consolidation of secular, like-minded regional parties’ in the wake of the Congress’ decimation. The Grand Old Party has lost its relevance in the national political arena and anti-BJP regional parties, that were hitherto prone to holding on to the apron strings of the Congress for their own political gains, should do a quick rethink.

Never has any election campaign been as polarized, crass and cut-throat as was seen in the national capital in the past few weeks, with the BJP switching on to a no holds barred mode to polarize the electorate with speeches hinging on hate. The Congress, on its part, seemed to have thrown in the towel even before the gong for the poll battle was sounded.

The BJP tried hard to project the CAA-NPR-NRC controversy and the subsequent unprecedented ongoing Shaheen Bagh protest as anti-national eruptions, but the verdict indicates that the strategy fell flat. There were shouts of traitors from the BJP gallery, and even calls for using bullets to silence them. The saffron party’s shenanigans to usurp nationalism and give it a new definition obviously did not cut ice with the electorate. The Delhi verdict is only the latest among several setbacks that the BJP suffered in the recent past when it tried to hard sell its form of nationalism, which essentially translates into saffronisation of the country.

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Given the BJP’s agenda-driven politics, and the complete erosion of the Congress’ political base across the country, it has become imperative for parties such as TRS, AAP, BJD, TMC, DMK, among others, to come under a secular umbrella and be prepared to take on national duty. The coming together of like-minded regional parties is all the more essential now than ever to ensure that democracy thrives, that no single party remains unchallenged at the Centre to impose its ideology on an unwilling people and also to save and retain the federal structure of the Constitution.

Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao’s pitch for a non-BJP, non-Congress Federal Front could be the perfect answer for today’s political imbroglio and could fill the vacuum created by the marginalization of the Congress not only on the national stage but also in most States. Chandrashekhar Rao had recently launched a scathing attack against the BJP government at the Centre on the CAA issue, and had indicated that he would call for a meeting of Chief Ministers and leaders of political parties opposed to such moves.

While the CAA-NPR-NRC remain contentious national issues, the States have their own serious issues with the BJP government on several fronts, the main being devolution of tax funds and financial assistance from the Centre for projects and schemes that are aimed at overall development of States. A progressive State like Telangana has not only been short-changed in devolution of GST and IGST funds despite being a major contributor to the Central kitty, but has also not received any kind of assistance for path-breaking projects like Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Scheme, Mission Bhagiratha and Mission Kakatiya, this despite recommendations from Niti Aayog.

Most non-BJP ruled States would have similar tales to narrate. Given the circumstances, a Federal Front could well emerge as the collective voice that can stop the BJP on its tracks, and ensure that development of the country and not division of the people remains top of the agenda.

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