India, being a secular country, has a good number of regional parties. And it only makes sense if they are here to grow. For almost a decade or two after the Independence, the Congress remained the dominant ruling party, both in States and at the Centre. The pains they took in the freedom movement and their dedication and earnestness to create a modern India that is both inclusive and advanced paid dividends for them. Or at least the reward was results of their political manoeuvring. But the script rarely goes as planned. Driven partly by their lethargy and partly by the nature of Indian economy and polity, the development that was promised never came, at least not as fast and in the way that many had imagined.
A few years later, the Left came in limelight, often understood as the legions that voice the concern of common people. For almost a decade, they remained the only credible Opposition in some States. A decade later, regional parties mushroomed in the politically active Hindi belt. By the time, Emergency kicked in, economy was in doldrums and corruption was at its height. In these troubled times emerged two stalwarts who would change the political landscapes of decades to come. The vision and ideology of Ram Manohar Lohia and Jayaprakash Narayan with roots in students’ movement in Bihar gave birth to a new generation of socialists — the very ones who would go on to change the complexion of the political landscape.
Our party, Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP) is a byproduct of this movement. For more than a decade, we have been staunch proponents of social inclusion based politics and have been at the forefront of fight against the chauvinistic dogmas of Manuvad.
The history of the rise of regional parties is the reason why they are not going to die out soon. The circumstances that created them in the first place are still there, accentuated in some cases. The national parties have become so big that it is almost impossible for a common man to reach the top leaders. This, over time, creates a trust deficit that ultimately ends with the chosen representatives becoming mere pawn of the party politics.
With time, they become less and less aware of the issues facing the people in their constituency. Regional parties, on the other hand are more connected to the “root”. For regional parties, people are their main source of power. It is no-brainer to deduct that to serve locals, you will have to be local. No outsider can understand your concerns better than the ones from within you and regional parties score heavily here.
The other reason is more personal. It is about the urge to preserve your culture and language against the majoritarian impulses of big national parties of the Lutyens’ Delhi. If we look at the history of modern day nation states, the Europe, for instance, we find that it is the language (and their unique culture and ethnicity) that has largely shaped their shape, size and ideology. Much like them, our States are also the product of intense debate on linguistics.
Of late, some leaders have begun to show a tendency of placing one language or practice over the other. The call to adopt Hindi as your prime language (read national language), for instance, such demand has raised eyebrows in many States, and rightly so.
For people who have known, say, Bengali or Tamil or Telugu their entire life, it is almost cruel for us to ask them to choose a language that we are comfortable with. It perhaps comes as no surprise when we see leaders from parties like AIADMK, DMK and others enjoying relatively more popularity than their national counterparts.
When our forefathers drafted our Constitution they made it very clear that India will have a federal nature of Government and rightly so. Being the seventh largest country in the world with home to almost 1,600 languages, India is marked by diversity. In a culturally and politically diverse country, it’s only fair that it reflects in our politics too. And the presence of large number of regional parties is a testament to that.
(The writer is National General Secretary & Spokesperson, Rashtriya Lok Samta Party)
Writer: Madhaw Anand
Source: The Pioneer