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4-min read

As Regional Parties Discuss Alignments, Will Southern Satraps Decide the Road to Raisina Hills?

Many of the opposition parties are likely to meet two days after the last phase of polling on May 19 to discuss different combinations for government formation at the Centre.

Deepa Balakrishnan, Rishika Sadamdeepab18

Updated:May 8, 2019, 8:23 PM IST
As Regional Parties Discuss Alignments, Will Southern Satraps Decide the Road to Raisina Hills?
Telangana CM K Chandrashekar Rao met his Kerala counterpart Pinarayi Vijayan in Thiruvananthapuram on Monday.

Bengaluru/Hyderabad: With two weeks to go for the outcome of the 2019 Lok Sabha election, regional parties have begun talking to each other, breaking the ice and extending olive branches.

First in the list is Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS)’s K Chandrashekar Rao, who fancies a significant role for himself at the national level, and has been making overtures to other regional satraps across the south.

After holding meetings with Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) in Karnataka, he is said to have scheduled a meeting with the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s MK Stalin, though it failed to materialise.

Many of the opposition parties are likely to meet two days after the last phase of polling on May 19 to discuss different combinations for government formation at the Centre.

“It is the era of provincial parties in India. Bengal, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh — wherever you go, it is the provincial parties (having an upper hand). Now they are going around to talk about future alignments,” JD(S) state president H Vishwanath told News18.

Stating that it was also inevitable for regional parties to mix with national parties, Vishwanath said everyone was aware that no national party would be able to form a government on its own in Delhi.

Southern parties like the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), TRS and JD(S) feel they would play significant roles in this as both the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress would fall short of the numbers required.

Asked if there could be a PM candidate from the south, Vishwanath said, “Who knows!”

Another JD(S) MLC, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Rao had assured Karnataka CM HD Kumaraswamy that he would not support a BJP-led front under any circumstances.

“Kumaraswamy did ask him if he would support the BJP at the Centre, but Rao was categorical that he wouldn’t. He was also saying that he wouldn’t do anything that would affect the JDS-Congress coalition here in Karnataka,” the source said.

Rao has been supporting the JD(S) from before the Karnataka Assembly election in April 2018.

TRS MP B Vinod Kumar, who was earlier the party’s deputy floor leader in the Lok Sabha, told News18 that his party had never expressed openly whether it would go with the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) or Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA).

“This time, neither the Congress nor the BJP, along with their alliance partners, can claim the magic figure of 272. The reason is simple — Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Odisha, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh and their six leaders would get 140 (seats). Even if all these five states and six leaders join hands, assuming for a moment, they cannot form a government. So someone should extend support, isn’t it? These six leaders should disintegrate and support either the UPA or the NDA. Even if these six leaders are able to form a federal front, then there should be an outside support. But I’ve never said that we will out-rightly support the Congress or it would support us,” said Kumar.

Asked whether the TRS was more inclined to support the BJP or Congress, he said a calculated decision would have to be taken after April 23.

After all, there could even be a scenario where the grand old party ended up with very few seats, Kumar added.

“The Congress crossing the 120-mark is a Herculean task, and the BJP will not get more than 175 seats. But the Congress is our main opposition in Telangana. If we support our main opposition, how would it be for our future politics, we have to see. We have to be very conscious while taking these decisions,” he said

TDP spokesperson Lanka Dinakar told News18 that while a few of the opposition parties would meet in Delhi on May 21, any discussion on possible Prime Ministerial candidates would happen only after May 23.

“Our concern is whichever political party leads at the national front, that party should have a clear dialogue with regional parties. When we were part of the UPA, we got cabinet positions, but major political decisions were taken by the Congress. That is when Rao got this idea of a third front. Same is the case with the BJP — its takes all major political decisions on its own, which irked one of its ally Shiv Sena. Hence, Rao’s concern is regional political parties should talk among themselves and then decide which national party are they going to support,” Kumar said.

Asked about the regional satraps’ conflict about fighting the Congress and BJP at the state levels and having to choose between these national parties at the central level, Vishwanath said, “When national question arises, for sake national unity, some adjustments have to be made.”

Asked with whom these adjustments would be made, the JD(S) leader said, “Anybody, anybody!”

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| Edited by: Sohini Goswami
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