The landing of the three southern chief ministers – K Chandrashekhar Rao, YS Jaganmohan Reddy and MK Stalin – in Delhi at the same time this week has generated some interest and curiosity in national political circles.
Their visit is being seen as a major push towards building their national image and relevance ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
As the Congress fights for its survival, regional parties like Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), Telangana State Association (TRS) and YSR Congress Party are expected to play a major role in filling the void.
Where Stalin is standing
MK Stalin’s three-day visit to Delhi had some undertone. From the inauguration of Anna-Kalaignar Arivalayam, the DMK’s first office outside Tamil Nadu, to the presence of anti-BJP allies during the publication of his autobiography in the national capital, the southern leader was sending a clear message – “Dili door nahi”
His statement that the DMK office in Delhi is “a mandatory symbol of the vital role that DMK and Dravidian models play in national politics” is another sign that the South is preparing for the 2024 general elections.
The presence of Rahul Gandhi, Omar Abdullah, Pinarayi Vijayan and Tejaswi Yadav at the time of publication of his autobiography was another open message of his party’s continued struggle against the “big brother” at the center.
Finally visited the government school in Delhi and said Mahalla The clinics were seen by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal as a step towards strengthening the DMK’s ties with the Aam Aadmi Party and gaining the support of anti-BJP allies.
Interestingly, the DMK is the third largest party in the Lok Sabha after sending 24 elected MPs to the lower house in the 2019 elections. Led by Karunanidhi and Jayalalithaa, the two Dravidian parties, the AIADMK and the DMK, have been instrumental in supporting the NDA and the UPA, thus helping them to come to power or even topple their government.
“Stalin is probably trying to form an alliance before 2024, just as his father Karunanidhi did in the late 1980s and late 1990s,” said Sandhya Ravi Shankar, a Chennai-based freelance journalist.
“Stalin may not be interested in the PM’s chair, but he certainly wants to be king-maker. We have to wait and see if this so-called third front actually takes shape, “he said.
Political analyst Sumantha C. Raman believes that unlike his father M Karunanidhi, Stalin has better opportunities in central politics. Although Karunanidhi made it clear that he knew his “limits” in politics, Stalin felt that he could use his proximity to the Gandhi family to his advantage.
Raman said that Stalin was much closer to Gandhi than the leaders of other regional parties like Chandrasekhar Rao or Mamata Banerjee.
However, the DMK chief faces a number of challenges as he is the leader of a state that has taken an anti-Hindi stance – which is not appreciated in the Hindi region of India. It will be difficult for him to fight for the top position. At most, he could be the convener of the Rainbow Alliance, whose role includes uniting the people. Not more than that, ”Raman told News18.
Jagan Reddy Mystery
When Stalin’s IT department advertised on social media that “social justice comes to Delhi”, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy came in a more frightening fashion.
Jagan’s YSR Congress Party is not far behind DMK. Out of 25 Lok Sabha seats in Andhra Pradesh, YSRCP has won 22 seats in the 2019 elections. Analysts say the party could still win a majority of seats in the state in 2024.
Like Stalin, Jagan is moving forward with the mantra of welfare. Direct money transfers to the poor and middle class in the name of various welfare schemes have paid off politically.
But Jagan’s relationship with the center is still a mystery. Though the Center desperately needs its funds and development projects locally, its main rival is the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) led by Chandrababu Naidu.
Political analyst Gali Nagaraja told News18 that Jagan was seen joining the BJP because he had no other choice.
“No Congress is in its original form and this is the party that was responsible for keeping him in jail in the ED case. Jagan has no choice but to stay close to the BJP. The BJP also needs Jagan more than Naidu in the AP because in the 2019 elections, Naidu funded elections to defeat Modi-Shah leadership in Karnataka, Gujarat and other states. So the BJP thinks that Naidu is more dangerous politically than Jagan and they will not like to keep him as their enemy. Using Jagan, the BJP plans to destroy the TDP and Naidu, ”Nagaraja explained.
However, Jagan is not part of the NDA. Political analysts see this as a precautionary measure on his part – to keep his options open before 2024 and to ensure that his state does not have the funds.
“Stay away from development, the government does not have the money to pay the contractors. No one is coming forward for development work. Is it enough to give money directly to the people in the name of the scheme? What about industry, jobs? Young and educated people are opposing Jagan’s rule, “Subramaniam, a senior journalist, told News18.
“Everyone except the opposition parties, including the Nobel laureates, praised us for our charitable work. We don’t care. We need our people for development. Certainly, we will be stronger after the 2024 elections, ”Mohammad Iqbal, YSRCP MLC, told News18.
“Of course, there is a void in Andhra politics. No one is in a position to compete with Jagan, including the TDP. Meanwhile, Jagan has stood by the BJP from the beginning even though it is not needed. This may include personal benefits like CBI, ED cases. However, it seems that YSRCP has sided with BJP in case of need. If the BJP needs the YSRCP in 2024, of course they will cooperate. If the BJP does not have the strength, they will look for alternative alliances, “said journalist and political analyst Subramaniam.
Receiving a hint from his Tamil Nadu opponent, Chandrasekhar Rao took a step to bury his national aspirations. He has appointed Sanjay Kumar Jha as his Press Relations Officer in Delhi, the first for this regional team.
Rao, who has been camping in Delhi since the happy Ugadi festival, appears to be on a mission to leak the center on the issue of paddy procurement on behalf of Telangana farmers. But there is more to it than meets the eye.
There has been a sudden change in the way the Telangana Chief Minister is publicly positioning himself. Rao was condemned for ruling the government from his huge “Pragati Bhavan” or his farmhouse in Siddipet district, “missing in action” at the height of the epidemic, but now suddenly “active and accessible”. From convening an all-party meeting (the first since he took over as chief minister in 2014), to launching a social development project to plan a dharna against the BJP in Delhi, KCR is now at the center of it all.
Political analysts read it as part of Rao’s larger “national plan.” Even his move to launch a national-level movement with the farmers’ unions, including dharna in Jantar Mantar, to draw attention to the paddy collection line is being considered as his strategy to build his “national image”.
Although his sudden appearance could be in preparation for the 2023 Assembly elections, sources close to the chief minister said that the TRS chief has been reeling from the electoral crisis that his party has been facing since 2020.
Disappointed with TRS’s performance in the Dubakka and Huzurabad by-elections last year, Rao is also uneasy about the way the BJP won the 2020 high-voltage Hyderabad municipal elections. Although the TRS failed to reach the half mark, its arch-rival the BJP. It won 48 seats compared to the four seats it won in the 2018 elections.
Analysts say Rao’s recent announcement that he is going to play an active and key role in central politics to bring the non-BJP and non-Congress governments to power at the center indicates his “frustration”.
“KCR’s initiatives are always multifaceted. If he garnered the support of non-BJP allies and formed an alternative front, he would be hailed as its initiator. He may also show that he tried to unite the Third Front, even as the NDA emerged as the largest coalition, ”Venu Gopal Reddy, a Telangana-based political analyst, told News18.
But being in the BJP’s opposition is always risky. A DMK minister has been charged this week, and at least two more are rumored to be facing music soon. The ghost of 2G is pending in the Delhi High Court.
Jagan is facing his CBI and ED case. Although the road ahead will have to be paved on thin ice, the dream of these southern leaders to flourish in Delhi may be delayed due to the BJP’s Jagranot or legal impediment.
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