Lalu Prasad and N Chandrababu Naidu may be on opposite ends of the political divide, but they are in total agreement at least on one issue: the increased presence of regional parties on the centrestage of politics. Both feel that such parties have a good chance of forming the next government.
“I am in touch with leaders of some regional parties, including Chandrababu Naidu, but will not reveal
the details,” said Lalu, chief of the Rashtriya Janata Dal.
Speaking in a similar vein, the president of the Telugu Desam Party said states had been driving governments in Delhi for some years. The trend will continue. Naidu’s projection is that the next Lok Sabha will see further lowering of seats from the Congress and BJP.
The two regional biggies from Bihar and Andhra Pradesh were speaking at a session titled “Will the States Lead the Centre?”
Lalu , also the Railways Minister, said nobody should have any doubt that the coalition era would continue for a long time. Neglected states like Bihar, Orissa and those of the Northeast would assume a far greater role in national politics in the years to come, he prophesised.
Speaking in his inimitable style, he said the late Jayaprakash Narayan’s desire to empower the electorate with the “Right to Recall” had been fulfilled because of coalition politics. “Allies only have to withdraw support and the government gets recalled,” he said amid loud laughter.
Any coalition leader “minus the BJP” would be acceptable as Prime Minister, said Lalu. Not ruling out his own candidature as a possible PM candidate, he said such things are pre-destined. “If I have to become the Prime Minister, I will. Nobody knows about such things.”
He described Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi as an earnest man and said the young leader was today engaged in the same task that Mahatma Gandhi had undertaken on his return from South Africa: a journey for a discovery of India.