Voting for national parties vs regional parties

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6.55 am, on board Shatabdi express en route to Delhi

I had a very interesting topic raised on twitter by Sandip, about the need to do away with regional parties by encouraging people to vote for national parties. I often find parties ( regional and national)nominating candidates that I personally would not vote for. The party ( and god)only knows what is the criteria for for giving nomination. This dubious method makes educated people loose faith in the party system. And instead of voting for a “party” the trend is to vote for a “candidate”. The uneducated masses usually vote blindly along party( read caste) lines with scant regard for the individual candidate.

I think at the outset it would be relevant to describe the term regional and national , since so many parties today are claiming to be ‘national’. That done one should attempt to go into the reasons behind the rise of regional parties. I feel there are times when a national party cannot adequately represent the issues of a particular area or meet the aspirations of the local prople and thus is born the “regional” party. The DMK, SAD and the AGP are examples.

The floor is open. Let’s get this started guys.

29 Comments on “Voting for national parties vs regional parties”

  1. Pushpinder

    instead why not just let there be a direct voting for the prime minister… I would directly want to vote for an MP rather than his foolish mantri’s

  2. prasun

    wow! interesting subject. Gul, when we say about national parties orieted for national interest, do you feel any of these parties are left with such motto? The fact is, even id AIDMK chief will become PM, he will work for national interest, Even if smallest particle, Raj thakrey will become PM, he will also work for nationl interest. The beuty of fact is, today no one cares who is gonna be who. This season i tried to motivate many youngters that guys you are now adult, where is your voter id card, i hope you guys will vote! Gul, muje pata hai ki muje kitni gaaliya padi hongi, that was disappointment! its because koikehta hai dhoop itni pad rhi hai kaun sar phote inn netaao ke peeche! NO ONE WANTS TO GET EDUCATED. Ye tomiddle class logon ki baat thi, agar garibo ko padha ya likhaa inn sab baaton ke liye, to bichare bas wo hi log hongay jinhe hum kuch bhi samjhaye wo samjh jaayengay.

    Gul, Sometime go in village during election campaingne. You will be surprised how our NETAS educate people. Or may be you know! THEY DISTRIBUTE DESI DAARU, CHAWAL, CLOTHES. DESI daaru tab tak pilaate hai jab tak aadmi behosh na ho jaaye. khoob pilaate hai ek mahine. Camp lagtey hai, BJP ka camp, cong ka camp…bula bula kar DAARU METHODOLOGY EDUCATION milta hai! to aapko aisa lagta hai ki wo log jo daaru ki bhasha se samjhtey hai, unhe meri aur aapki baat samjh mein aayegi?

  3. Sandip

    Many thanks for starting this debate. Let me stretch this a bit to corporate sector and tell you what Jack Welch had to say about staying with good company & bad boss or bad company and good boss. What he said is in a truly good company, they will eventually find the bad boss and get rid of him. The point is by voting for a not so good candidate if I am strengthening the hands of right party, its good for the nation. Secondly, if regional parties are born because local issues are not adequately addressed its fine. But look around and you will find that almost all regional parties are born with local versus outsiders agenda and tend to divide the nation.

    It is essential that we vote for national parties and in my opinion there are only two i.e. Congress or BJP.


  4. spo0nman

    A friend of mine raised a similar question – in a place where there are two big parties, if you start a new small party people will be wary to vote for you. The reasoning being (and this is not my reasoning, this is the people) that the chances of a small party winning are so minuscule that people feel that their vote is being wasted.

    How should it matter to you whether or not you sided with the winning team is beyond me. But, it does seem like the prevalent thought process. In a country as diverse as ours no single party can hold the mantle to be everyone’s savior and there will always be regional parties who understand their demographic better and appeal to it. It would mean more collation governments. Why is that looked as a bad thing? Of-course there is bribing of ministerial seats and such that will happen … but maybe just maybe a few local issues would seep into the state’s consciousness.

  5. Thejesh GN

    I would think about national party when i vote for MPs. There are only two national parties Congress or BJP according to me πŸ™‚
    but when i am voting for state, i usually tend to vote to regional party. My guess is that they know their state better.

  6. Ravi Sagar

    I am glad to see that celebrities are generating awareness this year on such topics. I think first it is important to educate people to vote.

    Voting percentage is never near 100% in any state. It doesn’t really matter if people vote for regional parties or national parties. At least they should vote to any party they want.

  7. pranay saxena

    hi gul
    i am firm beliver in national parties . regional parties not always but they are nerrow minded , their concern area is limited and because of this they do not understand wider issues. because of this in my point of view national parties are far better than regional parties

  8. Ankit

    When votiing for lok sabha polls we should shun regional parties because getting 10-15 seats they will become the PM or have a great say at any policy the govt makes like we have in case of the notorious N-Deal.Either vote for BJP or Congress because coalition govt will not provide stability…

    Just listening your song from Hello πŸ™‚

  9. amitraghat

    HI gul
    i am the firm beliver in national party politics . basically regional parties raise issue in regional interest
    they forget national issues . because of their nerrow mindness country suffers .i have a example yesterday tamilnadu cheif minister said that KILER of mr. rajive gandhi is mine friends .this statement of a regional party head show that regional interest is much higher than national interest

  10. Anupam Bhatt

    We just can not get rid of regional parties in a billion strong nation with diverse cultures, languages, thoughts, etc etc etc.
    It took so many years for BJP [national party ?] to make its foot print in south [read Karnataka].
    Due to the diversity, i am sure, you can never expect a single party [national] to represent every section/state [add caste etc to the list] of this nation.

    IMO, the change has to start from the regional level first, top-down approach would not work here. Difficult but i think that’s the way to go.

  11. Nimal

    hi gul…

    i do agree with your thoughts on this…

    //I feel there are times when a national party cannot adequately represent the issues of a particular area or meet the aspirations of the local people and thus is born the β€œregional” party.//

    but it will be a different question whether these so called “regional” parties do server the needs for the local people, and that will be a question.

    and though I’m not an Indian, i do understand that India is a nation that is made up of separate states with fair amount of governing power and in that sense it will be more appropriate to have regional representation in the central government too…

    correct me if I’m wrong, coz I’m not a Indian citizen… πŸ™‚

    and how was your journey…!!!

  12. midhun

    Dear Gul,

    I seriously don’t understand your stand when you say “the trend is to vote for a “candidate””, and when you say “the uneducated masses usually vote blindly along party (read caste) lines with scant regard for the individual candidate.” Are you not contradicting yourself?

    I agree 100 % with you on what you say the party (and God) knows. When it was the ballot paper system, people could at least protest by casting invalid votes. The EC should provide a “None of the above” choice on EVMS. A lot of voters choose, looking at which party is comparatively better off – meaning which party has lesser defects on all fronts.

    If only national parties remain, all the people will have a say in who rules India – rather than who rules J&K, Assam, Gujarat or TN. That way, it is a good suggestion. On the flip side, regional parties will know better the issues of their state, so as to fight for their rights in Parliament.


  13. Sumit Garg

    Of-course the main cause of rise of regional parties is due to the fact that the “national parties” get increasingly away from the local issues. The same thing happens with the big states where a state govt. may get alienated from a part of the state. This results in the demand for separate states.
    And everybody knows that most nominated candidates are no good.

    I believe you are right in picking both problems together. I do have an idea regarding this……. I don’t know how feasible it might be:

    I believe there should be a constituted a Central Independent Body which would conduct a biyearly exam for the eligibility to fight an election.
    It would test all the things that one might need to be an elected people’s representative – from local conditions to international matters.
    This would be minimum qualification for standing in lok sabha elections.
    For states, one would also have to pass a section on the state and region that they wish to appear from.

    Not only will this system bring back people’s faith in the legislature, it would also result in better governance.

    (P.S.: On the other hand it would also me that if there is a scam these guys would be very good in covering their tracks.)

  14. naharul haque

    Dear gul,
    i have just read your topic,would you think party(so called).politices will do better for our country.On todays view it is now become a business and love of power. politician gives their speech on the basis of religion,community and for narrow minded profit.Now a days candidate s are chosen in wrong way.most of the candidate have criminal record, and regional party’s are mostly stands this type of candidates.It is not that national party’s are not using this,they also doing this type of jocks? with public thought .In my point of view it is a conspiracy to broken the INDIA.Though voting power is our constitutional provision but whom we give?So called national or regional no one are behind this assepect.In my point of view there should be a blank space in every voting m/c so that we can give our remarks that no candidate are in my choice and there should be a facilities to give vote by online because 10% of our country man can not give there vote as for working in long distance form constitutional area or living abroad for there work or job.

  15. gagan deep chaswal

    National parties are only responsible for the existence of regional parties, because u can see wht is happening in north east, there is hardly any regional party, we have congress somewhere but not everywhere, then the second reason is the only public, wht happens in indian politics is totally decided by the public, this is why because indian politics is totally depends on regionalism, which region u r, u will think about the same, apart from the diversity u will never see ur neighbouring state or district, thats truly a human cum indian nature. People don’t matter how corrupt is their minister, what they matter what he has done in their area, wht he is doing with rest of the country nobody cares about it, thats somewhere called selfishness also, so thats not me or thats not u, we all collectively had build the system where we have to deal with both regional & national aspects. & now we the people are the only class who can change this…

  16. gagan deep chaswal

    National parties are only responsible for the existence of regional parties, because u can see wht is happening in north east, there is hardly any regional party(sorry national party i mean to say here)

  17. NiMaL

    hu Gul…

    i have similar thoughts on this matter, specially india being a nation build upon individual states, the representation from regions becomes vital, and regional parties would be able to do this better than the national parties in some sense.

    also this local representation would result in more diverse thinking in the central government, thus it will ensure that different ideas of different people that are unique to those regions could also be get executed.

    having said that if the questions is ask whether these regional parties are doing what is of the interest of the people they represent, its doubtful, specially in a collision government…

    this is just my personal thoughts…!

  18. Gul Panag

    Midhun,I meant a thinking educated person ,even though he may support a certain party may vote for a better candidate of a another party ; where as the uneducated masses vote for a party irrespective of the qualifications of the candidate.

    Sandip, I like the analogy with the corporate world. Makes my ‘ voting for candidate instead of party’ theory redundant.

    Sumit, the concept of an Independent body ‘qualifying’ candidates is the requirement. If there is am exam for civil services then why not for our parlimentarians??
    The problem is, half the parliament will fail this and failures cannot possibly(even wamt to) evaluate future candidates , after all an act of parliament will be required to implement the same and why would they vote to disqualify themselves.. It’s like GOI dragging it’s feet about pursuing black money in tax havens. Since most of the money that is there had been stashed by members of the government in the first place!

  19. HOBO(nickname)

    Awareness (rights & duties) – The most important education.

  20. Sumit Garg

    See that’s why I said that it might not be feasible. I would like everyone who reads this to comment on my views. Putting it in Sandeep’s example I would say that it’s been too much time that this company(country) has been run by a series of bad bosses and it’s high time we proved that we in fact are a good company and got rid of the system which elects bad boss.

    Of course you can’t expect legislature to support any change from status quo but we do have to remember that it is we the people who are supposed to run the country and not them. Call me a hopeless optimist but I believe that if people truly want something people will have it.

  21. Nisheel

    Some interesting viewpoints all around.

    Sandip….I agree with you….vote for the candidate of the part with overall the “best” national agenda.
    But what Gul says also has merit….the “local candidate”

    Getting the right “party” in power with a fairly clean (in india can never be totally clean can it :P) leadership is good…bec the country will move ahead. but let’s be a little selfish….who wouldn’t want a local corporator who did more for your neighbourhood where u lived ?
    no hawkers on foothpaths
    a safer neighbourhood
    better water/electric supply
    Flat and smooth roads

    if the local guy is a crook…even though his party is in power with an overall good agenda he/she will do nothing
    if a good local (independant) candidate is in power….then he/she is powerless to get things done even though intention is good bec there is no support at center.

    somewhere we need to converge…….either give local winners more power and funds even if their party is not in power….or change the way electorals are done in the 1st place……no crime/cheats/uneducated frauds as candidates !!!

    maybe change from PM to Presidential style also….who knows ??

    thoughts ????

  22. Sandip

    Hi Gul / All,
    Many thanks for your time and comments. Here is point wise reply.

    1. There are 4 phases of elections to go. Lets do some networking, spread the message and see if we can influence maximum urban voters to select between the two parties i.e. Congress or BJP.
    2. Politicians are reflection of society, they have not been imported from Gulf πŸ™‚ they have originated from us only. So we just cant put all blame on politicians.
    3. Most of the regional parties serve interest of language, caste or local vs outsiders ideology. Doesn’t work. I am yet to see a regional party which puts national interest ahead of local interest classic example is National Anti-terror agency, states dont want to give them free hand in their jurisdictions. There is another debate as to creation of states on languages has served the purpose or not. If you have time, please check it here-
    4. Midhun / Naharul- Under section 49-O of election rules you can go for voting and decide not to vote.
    5. Sumit- I have seen that most of the cabinet ministers in central & state government are well qualified i.e. post graduate etc. I dont think we can make certain education compulsory for politicians but at least we can make administrative training compulsory.

    We have long miles to go. I suggest all to carefully study history you will find answers to most of the questions. Lets ensure / pray that none of our friend or family member is again shot at point blank range while having dinner / stay at hotel.


  23. prasun kulshrestha

    wow…wonderful responces…18 in a day!

  24. Hemant

    @Sandeep, Unfortunately when you elect a wrong candidate the right party thinks that they can get majority with wrong candidates. Look at BJP. They are not getting rid of wrong guys or may be it is too early! I would say go for right candidates who have national interests than local and they can come together for a cause.

  25. Mohammed Siddiqui

    Entrance Exam for Parliamentarians!! LOLOL ha ha ha (err..Gul therez a spelling mistake. Its “Parliamentarians” not “parlimentarians”. “A” is missin. neva mind though).

    Exam ka pehla sawal – Kitne murder?
    Options are –
    1) 1 but <10
    3) 100
    4) I didnt count since this damn counter’s limit is just 999. Shit!

    Doosra sawal – Table ke neeche se kitne peti?
    Options are –
    1) Main peti nai khoka leta hoon!
    2) Ask my swiss bank acct. manager
    3) Entry toh hone do politics mein!
    4) Income tax bhi toh bharta hoon!

    Teesra aur akhri sawal – India ko azadi kis din mili thi?
    Options are –
    1) Mujhe vote do, main sabko azad kardoonga!
    2) Kal main jeet jaaoon, kal hi mil jaaegi!
    3) Vote do, Aazaadi lo!
    4) Pandit Karan Johar Nehruji!

    Now serious!
    Yes Regional parties should play an important role in forming the government at the center. We have THIRD FRONT, FOURTH FRONT, FIFTH BACK, SIXTH DOWN, et al commin up. That should help. Very interesting topic. My vote for Democrats. Hail OBAMA. πŸ˜› I m sorry.

  26. almostinfamous

    hi gul – i like the blog a lot, will be reading regularly from now on – also added you on twitter(same username – and sorry to hear about the problems with jet airways food)

    i think the main problem is that mainstream narrative seems to make out the ‘uneducated masses’ as a vast aggregation of politcal naifs, whereas in my (admittedly limited) experience they are rather keen about which candidate, party and which policies have and will benefit them either financially, socially or whatever immediately. most often they do not feel that they should care electorally about what happens in the rest of the country so long as their voices are heard at the state and local level and their problems are solved. of course this is a very pragmatic approach to politcs and not an ideal place to be given their constant betrayal but thats the reason our country has an anti-incumbency factor as opposed to most other democracies in the world.

    also, as opposed to the strain of most commenters so far, i am a pretty firm ‘regionalist’ and a supporter of the devolution of power to the state level and even lower, to prevent the accumulation of power in any one center. i do not hold my hopes up that this will happen anytime soon – but at least hope to see it within my lifetime πŸ™‚

    hope everyone here has voted in favour of their beliefs – i know i have.

  27. Arby K

    The candidates lack relevance, since once they reach the legislature they have to toe the party line. So, it’s better to look at the party and not the candidate.

    One issue for rise of regional parties is that the national parties are not able to meet local needs. But then there is also the case of national parties not being able to meet the needs of their local leaders. To be successful, political leaders need not have a national appeal, but only have to cater to their niche voter segments.

    Regional parties have a valid political space in India, but it becomes counter-productive when they get hold the national parties at their throats. Doing away with regional parties won’t solve the situation either. May be Congress and BJP will wisen up and team up, but I don’t expect that to happen until it becomes too late.

    @sandip : 49-O has no relevance as far as election results are concerned, though that didn’t stop me casting a non-vote πŸ™‚

  28. aks

    Hey folks, U all seem to be challenging the whole purpose of democracy by laying rules like communists.. we need to do this and we don’t need to do this…
    This is a democracy and everyone has a right to stand up for a contest be it a guy from a National party or regional party or an Independent. And remember as per “GEETA” u shouldn’t be judgmental about any human being.

  29. giriraj


    Let us think in the Long Term interest of the Nation.. We can have a good Govt. at the Centre only when it is Stable. These regional parties are a big spoiler. Look at AIADMK and other parties. they kept their cards close to their chest till the last day. What about ideology? If at all regional issues are to be raised, they can contest State Elections. But at the centre, I feel, there should be a two party system. Else, India will suffer.

    Not sure if you will agree with me. But will be interesting to read your comments.



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