India’s extensive search for a political alternative got Kejriwal for Delhi. Will this influence the emergence of similar alternatives in other parts of the country? Especially in Karnataka? There is a ton of unaddressed worrisome things about Karnataka Politics currently. Karnataka, incidentally, has been home for many stalwart leaders of both the Congress and the BJP. It is one of the few states where Congress can still claim some credibility. Throw JDS in the mix and you have a dish nobody would prefer to eat. A party which once was a voice of farmers, JDS, is now reduced to a dynastic party.
A common thread running along the three main political players is the lack of next-generation leaders. Not a single leader across all the parties has a strong local presence and also the abilities to lead the state let alone a constituency. Karnataka politics is at a juncture in need of a desperate alternative.
Do Upendra and Prajakeeya have the ability to be that alternative?
Popular actor Upendra known for his off-beat out-of-the-box films announced his entry into politics by establishing a political party called Uttama Prajakeeya Party. According to the announcement, UPP is supposed to be the party run by the people.
When the announcement was made, I was a part of the euphoria around it. The fact that somebody was talking about development was heartwarming. It was a sight I could pay for. Considering his sensibilities, people supported the idea and his idea of having this party. It was a welcome deviation from the three-party system.
Why Upendra failed to be the alternative?
It has been over 3 years since the inception of UPP and it is already in the bin of the forgotten political parties. The reason, without a second thought, is the faulty strategy.
In Indian politics, for a party to gain power, it needs to have a stable and loyal cadre on the ground, an agenda that could unite people and a face that can be trusted.
In the case of AAP, they ticked all these boxes. Since it emerged from a movement that united the working class, the agenda of the movement became the agenda of the party. Arvind, who was at the forefront of India against Corruption alongside Anna Hazare, had established himself to be a trustworthy face. Those that came on the streets for the IAC movement automatically became the cadre base for the AAP.
Comparing this with Prajakeeya, one could easily point at what’s lacking. Although Upendra is a popular face in cinema, he is far from being a trustworthy face in politics. Prajakeeya also doesn’t possess an agenda apart from being the alternative to the existent. The cadre base of Prajakeeya is almost null.
Can UPP emulate AAP in Karnataka?
If it is a point-blank question, I would hold my breath and say, yes. It does have the potential to be a credible alternative. Like every progression, it comes with a compromise. There needs to be a massive revolution that needs to happen inside the party, its ideals and the style of working.
The Prajakeeya lacks a strategy that can get them to office. They may have all the ideas to make a change once they occupy office but they seldom don’t have a path to reach that position. UPP has to look at themselves as a regional party first before fighting the Lok Sabha elections. Like they did in 2019. Fighting Municipal elections and Vidhana Sabha elections in Bangalore has to be at the top of their to-do list. This would enable them to build a voter base who could also work as a cadre on the ground. Post this, they can spread to different parts of the state expanding their agenda and of course, the voter base.
The success of AAP in Delhi has sent a clear signal – with a progressive agenda, developmental politics and hard work, there can be an alternative to age-old parties that are stuck in the image of their own. Prajakeeya is and should be that alternative in Karnataka.