Regional parties are the parties having a regional agenda and mostly limited to a particular region. for example in India – Shiv Sena, DMK, National conference party etc. Regional parties play an important role in Indian politics as we have a multiparty system in India. The new era of coalition politics has increased the significance of regional parties substantially.
Regional parties and Indian politics: Causes of its Rise; Features of Regional parties; Role of Regional Parties; Negative Impacts of Regional Parties
➤ Cause of the rise of Regional parties
- The decline of Congress:- after the death of former PM Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru and later on Indira Gandhi, the masses felt the need for increased regional representation. This, in turn, invited the rise of many regional parties.
- The cultural diversity of India and plurality in terms of class, caste and ethnicity. This leads to the regionalisation of Indian politics based on dominant castes and classes e.g. Jats (in Haryana, U.P. and Rajasthan), Yadavs in Bihar etc.
- The linguistic reorganisation of India, leading to a rise of regional identities among people.
- Uneven development caused by the Green revolution, leading to prosperity in some areas and backwardness in other areas.
- Emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi also gave rise to new parties.
- The self-interest of some previous Maharajas and Zamindars.
- Failure of National politics or Central Government to meet regional aspirations.
- Division among large parties on the basis of ideologies and political disagreements.
- Centralising tendencies of Congress party creating fear among people.
➤ Features of Regional parties
- It generally operates in a state or in a particular region, with limited electoral base.
- They work for regional interest based on ethnic, cultural and linguistic lines. for example demand for reservation of seats in jobs for the original inhabitants of that state only.
- It usually focuses on local and regional issues. It has no inclination to form government at the centre.
- It has a desire for greater political autonomy in India.
➤ Classification of regional Parties in India
Role Of regional parties
- Parties based on Regional culture and ethnicity: - Shiromani Akali Dal, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, Mizo National Front etc.
- Parties formed by a split in National Party:-Bangla congress, Utkal Congress, Kerala Congress, Biju Janta Dal etc.
- Regional parties based on Charismatic personality of the leader:- Lok Janshakti Party, Himachal Vikas Congress and Haryana Vikas party etc.
The following points highlight the important role played by regional parties in a rich democracy like India
Negative impacts of Regional Parties
- Making democracy more representative by widening the ambit of participation.
- by providing better governance at the regional level and especially in neglected areas.
- They have provided a place for better representation of local issues like Mizo National Front, putting forward the demands of tribes.
- Regional parties also have strengthened the federal axis of Indian democracy by providing voice and bargaining powers to the state.
- They have made the political process more competitive and brought leadership role out of the clutches of major parties only.
- They have challenged the One Party Dominant system, especially the Congress Era. And thus helping in breaking the monopoly of one party.
- They also have helped in widening the choices for the voters. Now a voter can vote the party represent ting the interest of his state.
- the political awareness of the people have been raised due to the efforts of Regional parties, they look at narrow and local social issues and brought them in front of the public. Therefore generating more political consciousness among masses.
- They provide a ground for the representation of minority, therefore making democracy successful. As democracy aims at equal representation of both majority as well as the minority.
- Regional parties also help in preventing tyranny of party in power. As a party which is in power at both centre and state may have a dictatorial and bias attitude.
- They have played an important role in the times of coalition politics, by providing support to other parties in lieu of benefits for their regions.
However, there are some negative effects associated with the formation of regional parties like
- They have undermined National interests in lieu of narrow regional interests, thus harming National interest.
- fragmentation of national parties has led to instability in the government.
- They have given a boost to the tendencies of the division of states on the basis of language, caste, tribe and other ethnic factors.
- They focus more on populist policies like frequent loan waiver by various states, in order to enhance their voter base, This, in turn, harms fiscal balance in the economy. This also leads to broadening of the fiscal deficit of the country.
- This frequent representation by regional parties leads to a rise of separationist tendencies among the public.
- Rise of regional parties has made politics as cut-throat competition, therefore promoting greater use of irrational means like money and muscle power to gain political power. This can be seen in terms of violence in various Indian states during elections.
- Rise of corruption in politics can also be associated with this, as widening of power makes it hard to find the culprit of corruption.
- Regional parties also hinder the solution of interstate disputes as well as interstate water disputes. Therefore undermining cooperative federalism and welfare of the nation as a whole.
- They have also involved in nepotism, corruption, favouritism and other misadventures. Therefore undermining the spirit of our Constitution.
- They also hinder the timely implementation of foreign treaties and policies. for example - constant intervention of Trinamool Congress in West Bengal against the water-sharing arrangement of Indian Government with Bangladesh Government.
Regional parties though having some shortcomings, yet have proved to be helpful in providing representation to the rich and diverse culture of India and also helped in widening Democratic culture.