The rise of provincial overlords – pune mirror 3 gases that cause global warming

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However, the Janata Dal (Secular)’s ascendancy in Karnataka and its leader HD Kumaraswamy’s dexterity in coaxing the Congress’s support on his terms —Congress leaders have assured him a full five-year tenure as chief minister — indicated that the Mamata-Rao project could indeed become a reality before the 2019 Lok Sabha election.

Areporter from a foreign news agency asked if Kumaraswamy would sooner than later abdicate his turf to the Congress, because the reporter could not conceive of a scenario in which a national party would play adjutant to a state satrap. Kumaraswamy and abdicate? His contempt for the Congress and the BJP was apparent in an interview he gave before the Karnataka polls. He described the Congress as “more dangerous” than the BJP, and boastfully claimed, “Today if we stand next to the BJP and just cough, the Congress will be washed out of Karnataka.” The Congress was not “washed out”, but by tactical manipulation, Kumaraswamy transferred the core votes of his Vokkaliga community to the BJP in his Mysuru bastion wherever the party was better placed than the JD(S) and enabled it to win 10 of the 66 seats, even when the BJP’s internal forecast had not given it more than two or three. The Congress finished with just 17, while the JD(S) picked up 28 seats.

Like Mamata, Chandrasekhar Rao, Akhilesh Yadav, Mayawati, Sharad Pawar and N Chandrababu Naidu, Kumaraswamy envisaged for himself a role transcending Karnataka in 2019. He set a target of winning 20 of the 28 Lok Sabha seats in his state and said, “If the regional parties come together, the national parties won’t take off in the next (general) elections.”

The chutzpah displayed by regional satraps in the recent past stems from a sense that the Congress does not have the stuff to answer the BJP, tactic for tactic, cadre to cadre and leader to leader, while the BJP has started appearing a tad shaky and could lose ground in its peak areas without making up for the losses in what it believes are sunrise states. For instance, if conservatively, the BJP was to forfeit 10 or 15 of the 73 seats it won in UP in 2014 and drop marginally in the other northern and western states, can it reasonably hope to compensate in West Bengal, Odisha and the southern states, Karnataka being the exception? Unlikely. The BJP has elbowed out the Left Front and the Congress and occupied second place in the post-2014 elections in West Bengal, including last week’s panchayat polls. But it’s way behind the Trinamool Congress and will need a series of miracles to bridge the gap.

The perennial cry from the BJP’s Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana units is that they are its “stepchildren”. The three states have a history dominated by the regional parties that have relegated the Congress to a secondary position (after a long rule by Congress in undivided Andhra), and yielded virtually no space to the BJP, except to potter around and pit one local chieftain against another in Tamil Nadu.

The vibrancy set off by the JD(S)’s success was presaged by the reunion of the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party in UP, and the revival of the Rashtriya Janata Dal under Lalu Prasad’s scion Tejashwi Yadav in Bihar. Lalu blossoms when he’s persecuted and prosecuted in one scam or the other. While the father’s in jail (Lalu is currently out on interim bail in cases relating to the fodder scam), Tejashwi has kept the RJD together and humoured its oldtimers such as Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, who initially found it hard to accept the heir.

In the proposed front, leaders like Mamata, Mayawati, Omar Abdullah and lately Naidu have willingly held the BJP’s hands in the past, but the presence of Lalu, Akhilesh and the Left ensures that its politics is cemented by “secularism”. This circumstance puts a question mark on the induction of NDA constituents such as the Akali Dal, while categorically ruling out that of the Shiv Sena, although it has consistently assailed the BJP and Narendra Modi.

Harkishan Singh Surjeet, the departed CPI(M) general secretary, was the patriarch who brought the United Front into being in 1996. But the current line-up is missing a veteran of Surjeet’s vintage and stature. Can HD Deve Gowda, who was the UF’s prime minister, step into Surjeet’s shoes?