The meeting between Telangana CM and TRS chief K. Chandrasekhar Rao and Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan has sparked another debate over the relevance of Congress post-2019 general elections. The 2014 general elections which saw Congress hitting its lowest tally of just 44 seats in the Lok Sabha has forced the grand old party to extreme ends to save its remaining political ground from the BJP.
Taking note over the dire electoral condition of the Congress, efforts towards the formation of a ‘federal front’ in the post-poll scenario have accelerated. On Monday, KCR flew to Kerala on a special flight and might also proceed to Tamil Nadu however sources in the DMK said party chief MK Stalin may not be available for any meeting on May 13 as he would be busy campaigning. The DMK is contesting the election in alliance with the Congress. Rao also talked to Karnataka Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy over the phone on Monday.
KCR’s assessment, according to sources, is that “neither the BJP nor the Congress will be able to form a government even with their present allies”. The two parties won’t even get anywhere near the halfway mark, he predicts looking at the PM’s post. Though highly ambitious, the ‘federal front’ is more likely to emerge as a replacement for Congress as the principal opposition post general election. However, the feasibility of the federal front is just speculative and holds no solid basis for making any conclusive statement. Adding to the differences, the relationship with Congress of the likely members of the ‘federal front’ might also hinder the possibilities.
Calling the meeting “highly significant”, Mr. Vijayan today said, “KCR discussed the national political scenario. According to KCR, both fronts may not get the majority and so regional parties will get a prominent role… There were no discussions about Prime Ministere Candidate.” However, later comments by Pinarayi Vijayan also indicate towards the utopian nature of the ‘federal front’ as he had reportedly told KCR that his CPM’s central leadership would take a call on his plan after May 23.
KCR and other leaders from the south played the waiting game. After five phases, the leaders clearly have a feeling that the BJP has the upper hand and Congress is certainly going to lose. They have abandoned the Congress and haven’t sent feelers for joining the coalition. This is perhaps the reason they are forming a coalition of regional satraps so that they can create another front and at least be the principal opposition. This is certainly not an anti-BJP coalition, it is an anti-Congress coalition and so they haven’t sent any feelers to Congress party as they have a fair idea about who’s winning the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. And if their action is to be considered then Congress is possibly going to lose, even bigger than 2014.
KCR also plans to travel North and East with his plan, and meet Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. Last year, these meetings didn’t yield much. He met Mamata Banerjee and Naveen Patnaik but was stood up by Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav when he traveled to Delhi to meet them.
Chandra Babu Naidu is also positioned to hinder the ‘federal front’, with close relations with Mamata Banerjee as it was evident in the run-up to this general election, CBN’s alienation from the ‘federal front’ might further lead to more parties refraining from joining this coalition. With no ideological backing, the ‘federal front’ is just dependent on the numbers which as experience from our long history of parliamentary democracy shows might be instrumental however are surely not the ultimate factors which sustain collations with multiple power centers.