Can federal front change the game?
Amidst signs of cracks appearing in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Janata Dal(United) heading for a divorce, the formation of a federal front has gathered momentum. The idea of a federal front was first mooted by West Bengal chief minister, Mamata Banerjee, on Monday, when she wrote on her Facebook page: ‘Time has come for all the regional parties to come together and form a Federal Front in the coming Lok Sabha elections.’
Banerjee’s idea has found a positive response just within two days, with chief ministers of Bihar and Odisha sounding optimistic over the suggestion made by their counterpart from West Bengal. ‘I spoke to Naveen Patnaik on the issue over phone today. When we talk again we will decide the venue where we will meet,’ said Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday. Banerjee’s statement was quickly reciprocated by Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik, who was present in Delhi, for the party’s ‘Swabhiman rally’. ‘If a new federal front comes up then being secular and democratic, we will certainly look upto it,’ said Patnaik.
On the other hand, JD(U), which looks set to sever ties with the BJP , sent its general secretary KC Tyagi to Kolkata on Wednesday to meet Banerjee. ‘I spoke to Nitish Kumar. Nitishji is in agreement that it would be good if we come together and form a federal front and, Tyagiji has come to talk to me on the subject. We will also talk with all regional parties in different states,’ said Banerjee after her meeting with Tyagi. The West Bengal chief minister said that her Bihar counterpart agreed that formation of a federal front would be good for the country as well as states.
As seeds for a federal front were being sown in Kolkata, the Odisha chief minister marched towards Delhi, where he held a rally to demand special status for his state. The ‘Swabhiman rally’, held by Biju Janata Dal (BJD) on Wednesday, is seen as an effort by the party to have visibility at the centre. With much political churning in the run up to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, BJD could play an important part at the centre with the formation of a federal front.
Evoking Oriya dignity, Patnaik accused the Centre of following a policy of political discrimination in granting central assistance even as he made a strong pitch for special category status to his state. ‘The policy of political discrimination pursued by the UPA government is a dangerous trend, not conducive to a healthy federal structure. The UPA government is following different policies for different states,’ said Patnaik.