The overall conclusion is that regional parties continue to be a stupendous force in the states. The Congress Party has not been able to reverse its declining trend. BJP continues to make inroads into new areas of national politics. The Left, while it has lost ground in West Bengal, has once again emerged victorious in Kerala.
Mamta has established herself as a strong leader. There are people looking forward to her to lead the nation after the next general elections. She has emerged stronger than ever before. The case of Amma is a little different. There are apprehensions that her health is deteriorating. It is doubtful whether she will be able to lead her party in another round of elections. Her chances of emerging victorious on the national scene seem to have faded a great deal.
What are the implications of verdict 2016 for the national scenario. The role of regional parties in national politics has been reinforced. BJP continues to be the only party with a pan India reach. The Congress Party also commands such a reach. But it does not command the numbers to survive on the national scene on its own.
The political battle in the 2019 general elections may well be between the BJP and the rest. It cannot be said that the BJP has emerged stronger since the 2014 general elections. While Modi is the undisputed leader for the people in his party, for his opponents, he is an embodiment of all that can be wrong in a leader. While it is undisputed that Modi has strong vote catching abilities, he can also prove to be an element which spoils the show as the reference to Somalia in the Kerala elections showed.
Opposition to the BJP in the 2019 elections may come from an Alternate Front. Such a front could be the amalgamation of a large number of regional parties. Whether the Congress Party will be acceptable to the probable constituents of such a front is doubtful. In the Bihar elections, such a front could be successfully cobbled together and emerged victorious. The Congress Party was a crucial element in that front.
A matter of great speculation is who can assume leadership of such a front. Rahul Gandhi will be the Congress Party’s nominee for the job. But will he be an acceptable leader to the other constituents of the front. Earlier in this article we talked about Mamta Banerjee playing this role. There are also leaders from UP, Bihar, Odisa, and other parts of the country who can stake claim for the post. Selecting the right person as the leader will be a delicate task and one that is crucial to the success of the entire experiment.
It remains to be seen whether the Congress Party will be able to provide leadership to the proposed Alternate Front. At present Nitish Kumar is attempting to provide leadership in setting up of such a front. The Congress Party aligned with the left in West Bengal while these two parties fought against each other in the state of Kerala. Thus, it is possible that the two parties may remain adversaries in a particular state election, but join hands with each other in becoming constituents of an Alternate Front at the national level. The story of the 2019 general elections is going to be interesting and will throw up many a surprise.