With the intentional aggression of BJP, the defence of their own political territory becomes the primary importance to the regional players and they will be compelled to guard their Lok Sabha seats with all their sentimental regional slogans and appeals, leaving the Congress in the lurch.
The recent results of the elections in five states shattered the Congress party's ambitions and regional parties barring the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). With the tremendous victories in four states where they retained power, negating all odds of history and politics in those states, BJP is already in the feeling of victory in 2024. Narendra Modi is already claiming the right to rule beyond 2024, and now it is left to the opposition to reposition themselves to challenge the juggernauts of BJP under the Modi-Shah combination.
The regional parties had great hope of forming a challenging front before the March election results. A Series of meetings were conducted in different state capitals regarding the formation of an un-named front under the unspecified leader. Whether it is KCR of Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) or Mamata Banerjee of Trinamul Congress (TMC), or M. K. Stalin of DMK, it was all high-spirited speeches and actions as all of them were hoping victory for Akhilesh Yadav of SP in Uttar Pradesh heralding the decline of the BJP. Their assessment of abated 'Modi hava' proved misplaced as the verdict of the four states proved.
Their confidence is further shattered with the massive mandate for AAP, which was not in their umbrella of an informal forum of regional parties. Another troubling thing is the decimation of Congress in all the states, including Punjab, where it was in power. The history of the third front government in India was always with the support of Congress as the pan-India Congress was always winning 100 to 150 seats, giving strength to the national level political ambitions of the regional party leaders. Post-2014 elections, the Congress influence has been confined to less than 100 seats. In such a situation, the third front government can become a reality with all the regional parties winning all the Lok Sabha seats in their respective states, and such a situation may not be that easy. In Such a possible scenario, the regional parties may have no option but go back to the new strategy board to take on BJP.
Till the recent election results of five states, there were more than two thoughts in the regional parties. One group, like DMK, that has an alliance with Congress in Tamil Nadu and has faith in Rahul Gandhi's leadership. The other group, like the NCP and Siva Sena, is already in coalition with the Congress in Maharashtra and wishes to continue their political business with the Congress on the condition that Rahul Gandhi is away from leadership. The third group is led by TMC, for whom Congress is not at all acceptable as a political partner. In fact, Mamata Banerjee has claimed TMC as the real Congress and gave a call to the congressmen to join her party to fight BJP, thus closing all the options for the Nehru dynasty in the prospective opposition alliance. Since her victory in the Bengal assembly elections, Mamata Banerjee started believing herself as attaining the unquestionable place of the challenger to Modi. There is another group of regional parties like TRS (Telangana), JDS (Karnataka), YSRCP (Andhra Pradesh), which are led by political fence-sitters whose opposition to Congress runs hot and cold depending on the situation. Even the JMM of Jharkhand, which is running a coalition government with Congress, though not specified its stand in the changed atmosphere, may not like to concede not many seats to that national party in the 2024 elections. Like many other regional parties, JMM may also wish for a large number of seats in the state to have a better role in the Front and demand its share in the ministry formation and portfolio allotment.
As the time approaches for the next round of parliamentary elections, which many feel are much earlier than the scheduled early 2024, the regional parties will be forced to be more cautious in formulating their national ambitions. The BJP, fresh from the four-state victories, has already announced its ambition and strategy for the next elections. Narendra Modi emphasized his ambition to end the hereditary political leadership, which BJP feels is detrimental to democratic politics. Outwardly it may seem to have targeted Congress and Nehru dynasts, but it was actually meant to attack the regional parties, which are family lead parties run as private limited companies where the close family members are the decision-makers on all aspects of party and government. BJP started preparations to retain the power in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, which goes to the polls at the end of the year and announced its intention to focus on Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, where the regional parties are in power. The preparation of BJP to go to early polls in Karnataka is in full swing as it wishes to cash the hijab judgment and Kashmir Files cinema generated patriotic fervour. Barring BJD of Odisha, no other regional party is confident in facing the elections in the backdrop of the BJP juggernaut in display in the north. The coalition bond of Maha Aghadi in Maharashtra is now a suspect. The BJP's aggressive mood, say either enacting the anti-conversion Laws in the state of the after state or coming out with an aggressive pro-Hindu agenda like making Bhagvat Gita compulsory subject in Gujarat, is very clear.
With the intentional aggression of BJP, the defence of their own political territory becomes the primary importance to the regional players. The regional parties will be compelled to guard their Lok Sabha seats with all their sentimental regional slogans and appeals, leaving the Congress in the lurch. Without the cooperation of the regional parties, the Congress is not in a position to win seats on its own. Without the 'regional crèches' for support, Congress may further shrink. In the likely scenario, the Congress Mukth Bharat slogan of BJP will turn into a Congress Mukt Opposition call of the regional parties by the next round of Lok Sabha elections.