On National and International Situation

14. Karnataka is one state where the BJP and the Congress gained simultaneously in the last Assembly election by squeezing out the third party, the JD(S). In 2004, the BJP had already emerged as the single largest party and four years later, Karnataka became the first state in south India to have a BJP-led government. But the BJP rule has become notorious for massive land and mining scams and the rise of the mining mafia and attacks on women and religious minorities, Christians in particular. Indicted by the Karnataka Lokayukta on corruption charges, BJP strongman Yeddyurappa had to resign in 2011 and after repeated revolts in the party eventually he had to quit the BJP and form his own party. It now remains to be seen where the BJP stands after Yeddyurappa’s exit from the party. In many ways, Congress-ruled Andhra Pradesh has emerged as the mirror image of BJP-ruled Karnataka. The Congress still runs the government on paper, but the breakaway YSR Congress seems to have emerged as the real Congress while Congress is trying unsuccessfully to make up for the loss by acquiring the erstwhile Praja Rajyam Party led by film star Chiranjeevi and exploring the possibility of striking another merger and acquisition deal with the Telanagna Rashtra Samiti.

15. Karnataka apart, the other state where the BJP has managed to increase its strength and acquire greater prominence in recent years is Bihar. In fact, between November 2005 and November 2010, the BJP almost succeeded in doubling its tally in Bihar Assembly, raising it from 55 to 91, just 24 short of its partner JD(U). If the RJD misrule in Bihar gave the BJP its first big break in Bihar, catapulting it to power, it is the alliance with Nitish Kumar which has really helped the BJP to expand and consolidate its influence in Bihar in a big way. Nitish Kumar has been trying to keep up his secular image by drawing a line of demarcation with Narendra Modi, but within Bihar the BJP enjoys a free hand to play its communal card. The BJP has also been emboldened by the Nitish regime’s complete surrender to the feudal lobby in Bihar as evidenced by the dumping of the Bandyopadhyay Commission’s report on land reforms at the first opportunity and the continuing appeasement of the Ranveer Sena. By contrast, conditions are tougher for the BJP in its traditional stronghold of Jharkhand where the party has to face stiff competition from the breakaway Jharkhand Vikas Morcha and other regional forces.

16. Regional parties constitute a growing phenomenon in Indian politics. While some of these parties are rooted in powerful regional or social identities, or in long-standing struggles for statehood or greater autonomy, many have emerged in recent years as a result of fragmentation of the Congress and the BJP or the erstwhile Janata Dal. The proliferation and consolidation of regional parties in last two decades must be seen largely as a political fall-out of the policy regime of liberalisation and privatisation and the rise of powerful regional economic interests as big corporate houses and global capital try to acquire strong footholds in resource-rich regions. While regional parties offer stiff competition to the Congress and the BJP in the states, in all-India politics they usually play second fiddle in lieu of the regional advantages they can secure through a hard bargain with the Centre. The UPA government employs a carrot and stick strategy to deal with powerful regional parties, making full use of central agencies like the CBI and the financial power of the centre vis-a-vis the states. On the issue of FDI in retail we once again saw parties like the SP and BSP bail out the UPA government while NDA constituents like the JD(U) and Shiv Sena too voted for the Congress nominee at the time of the Presidential elections. Meanwhile, DMK leaders faced CBI raid the moment after the party withdrew support over the issue of the UPA government’s refusal and failure to push for a stronger resolution in UNHRC over the issue of war-crimes in Sri Lanka and justice for the Sri Lankan Tamils.

17. The Left bloc led by the CPI(M) has faced a major debacle in its strongest bastion of West Bengal. Even though the CPI(M) by and large retains its strength in its other two strongholds of Kerala and Tripura – the party lost narrowly in Kerala while retaining power for the fifth consecutive term in Tripura – the party’s decline in West Bengal has considerably weakened its national profile and the strength of the CPI(M) and its allies has dropped drastically from the highest