India is a democratic country where the citizens get an opportunity to choose their representatives. Every five years, various political parties contest for elections and the citizens choose who should be running the country for that term. Elections are crucial for a developing economy such as in India, because only the right leader would be able to lead the citizens towards growth.
The state of politics in South India is very different from the states in the north, and each of the states in the south also has a distinctly different state of political affairs. After observing the country’s political dynamics for a while now, it can be said with confidence that the preference of the voters in the south is completely different from those in the north. The voter base in the south has a unique characteristic where the voters stay loyal to one specific party. The party that they show loyalty towards usually happens to be a state-based political party. Unlike the north and the west, national parties do not have prominence in these states, and the only way they can gain votes is by forming alliances. This is it becomes imperative to understand the nature and politics of the alliances in order to study the politics in the south. A political alliance can be basically defined as an agreement between two parties formed by keeping in mind a common agenda which would enable them to win the elections.
The south of India is essentially categorized by five states—Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu—and one union territory—Puducherry .The alliances between parties seem to evolve with every elections, as new alliances are formed every time. Alliances here are led by a singular purpose of gaining more votes. Kerala and Karnataka have one common political feature, that is, there is a presence of the nationalist parties like BJP and Congress in both the states. In Kerala, one can observe a bipolar alliance system between the United Democratic Front (UDF) and Left Democratic Front (LDF), but the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been trying to gain a share in the state. In Karnataka, there is a clear cut competition between the BJP and the Congress-JD(S) coalition. Except in these two states, the political choices are clearly driven by the state-based parties and alliances.
BJP is looking to form alliances in the south primarily because its presence beyond the Hindi speaking states is very less. That is the party is ensuring to form an alliance with a strong regional party or trying to maintain warm and cordial ties with them, so that it can gain their support when the need arises. This was clearly noticed when Narendra Modi refrained from commenting on any of the regional parties. Few sources in the BJP stated that the party is well placed in Telangana because of the belief that the ruling party, Telangana Rashtriya Samithi (TRS) would come together with BJP. However, the situation doesn’t seem good for them in Andhra Pradesh, though BJP had an alliance with Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in the 2014 elections. This is because such an alliance is not possible in the current times as the TDP-led Chandrababu Naidu had put forth the idea that BJP did not do enough for the newly formed state. The fact that BJP is trying so hard to form alliances clearly shows that the dominance of the state-led parties is prominent in the south.
Some others feel that YSRCP and AIADMK are skeptical about joining hands with BJP because they are scared of losing their Muslim voter base. In the 2016 assembly polls in Tamil Nadu, DMK had Congress as an ally, whereas on the other hand, AIADMK and BJP had their own separate alliances.
Considering the study of all these alliances in the south, it can thus, be inferred that in all the states in the south, except in Karnataka, there is a major role played by the state-based parties. The results of the elections in the south will be completely different from the results of the west and the north of India. The complete shift in the events which has led to a change in the party alliances has brought in various changes. Therefore, in the current times, there is undeniably an air of uncertainty as to what the outcome of the elections would be. Elections have always been uncertain, but this time, the politics of these alliances have made them all the more uncertain.
Picture Credits : thehindu