NCP president Sharad Pawar sees a significant role for regional parties across the country in determining the fate of the government at the Centre. In an interview to The Indian Express last week, Pawar said, “The regional parties, which reflect the aspirations of the people in their respective states, are a force to reckon with. And they are here to stay and will consolidate in the coming years as they somewhere mirror the aspirations of the people at the micro levels, based on language or regional issues.”
Pawar said, “I believe the BJP and the Congress may not get an absolute majority of their own. And a lot will depend on how the regional parties emerge to decide the government at the Centre.”
Pawar’s assessment differs with that of Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, who believes regional parties should be banned. Chavan first expressed that view during an interaction with The Indian Express team in an Idea Exchange programme in Mumbai Wednesday, then been reiterating that since. Pawar had expressed his views during a larger interview, given before Chavan’s statement.
Chavan argues that there should be a two-party system in India. According to him, regional forces are detrimental to government as they do not have the necessary mandate and threaten stability. “I believe India should have a two-party system like Germany and regional parties should be banned.”
Pawar’s view is, “The country will have to reconcile to the fact that coalition government is a reality and here to last for the next 10 to 15 years at least.”
Pawar does not see a third front as an alternative at the Centre. But as he feels the Congress and the BJP are unlikely to get absolute majority, he says, “Regional parties from the Trinamool Congress, led by Mamata Banerjee in West Bengal, to the Samajwadi Party, led by Mulayam Singh Yadav in Uttar Pradesh, will be important players.”
About his own party, he said, “Show me one party like the NCP which has always remained loyal to the Congress.”
Chavan’s demand for a ban on regional parties has evoked sharp reactions from state leaders. Maharashtra BJP president Devendra Fadnavis said, “I think the CM should study the Constitution. The regional parties seek the mandate from the same people who also vote for the Congress or the BJP. Therefore, it is an insult to the people who are the driving force of Indian democracy.”