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Issue of succession faced by the regional political parties in India

GS Paper 2

 

Syllabus: Pressure Groups & Formal/informal Associations & Their Role in Polity

 

Source: TH

 Context: 24 years after its formation, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) split over the question of succession.

 

Similar cases:

  • The Shiv Sena, Samajwadi Party (SP) have gone through this churn.
  • The Biju Janata Dal (BJD) seems poised to undergo this churn.

 

The rise of regional parties in India:

  • It coincided with the decline of Congress in the 1990s.
  • They were basically caste-based alignments, with the Mandal movement providing the necessary prompt.

 

Characteristics of regional parties in India:

  • Have a regional agenda (concentrates on regional or local matters) and recognise a distinct religious, ethnic, cultural or linguistic group.
  • The electoral ground is restricted to a specific state or region.

  

Reasons for succession battles in several regional parties in India today:

  • Have become ‘Hindu undivided families’: Consisting of all those who have directly descended from a common ancestor as well as their wives and unmarried daughters.
  • Have given up their larger purpose:
    • Many of these parties began with the goals of promoting sub-nationalism, protecting their own caste or ethnicity and larger federal interests (DMK).
    • But over a period of time, they have all become parties strangled in family feuds.
  • Have a centralised party structure, low intra-party democracy, and are often controlled by a single family.
  • Have not evolved with time: There is splintering within castes and caste identity itself has gone through a lot of change.
    • The ideological divide is thinning, forcing everybody to go beyond family, caste, or ethnic loyalty to create a larger purpose.

 

Implications of these succession battles: With the decline of regional parties, the challenges to a dominant party system will reduce.

 

 Challenges for regional parties:

  • The paradox about regional parties is that the family is central to their survival, but the family is also a liability.
  • Absence of charismatic leaders: For example, for the BJD, who will be the leader after Naveen Patnaik is a worrying question.

 

Way ahead:

  • The regional parties have to come up with an internal decision-making process for anointing the next leader.
  • These regional parties can have a think tank (like RSS for BJP) that sits as the arbitrator to look for an alternative when required.

 

Insta Links:

Political parties in India

 

Mains Links:

“The Indian party system is passing through a phase of transition which looks to be full of contradictions and paradoxes.” Discuss. (UPSC 2016)