NDA on Verge of collapse

The big brother attitude that the BJP has been adopting towards its allies has virtually brought the ruling National Democratic Alliance on the verge of collapse making it difficult for the alliance leader to keep its flock together ahead of next year general elections.

After Shiv Sena announcement to go alone in the coming elections, the two more allies Janata Dal (United) and Telegu Desam Party have also threatened to walk out of NDA if the BJP continues to ignore their demands. All three allies of the BJP are currently sharing power in Maharashtra and ruling the states of Bihar and Andhra Pradesh respectively. They altogether have strength of 35 law makers in the Lok Sabha and are expected to raise their tally in the next poll if they go alone.

In these states the leaders of the BJP are at logger heads with their allies and often criticize policies of the state governments on one or other count despite sharing power. The remarks and statements the BJP leaders made against their allies played vital role in spoiling relations with allies and raising a question mark on the stability of alliance governments.

The Prime Minister Narendra Modi who seems not bothered about the continuation of alliance and the BJP President Amit Shah who has main responsibility as the leader of the leading party to keep NDA united has no time even to meet the leaders of alliance partners. The issue of contention between JD (U) and the BJP in Bihar is over seat-sharing for the Lok Sabha. The BJP has offered nine seats to JD (U) arguing that giving more than nine seats to new entrant like JD (U) would mean parting with its own share or denying seats to its old allies which they had won in the last elections. The BJP and its allies had won a total of 31 seats in the last Lok Sabha elections. The JD (U) that leads the government in the state contended that it should be given more seats than any other ally as it leads the coalition government in the state.

Bihar sends 40 members to the Lok Sabha, which is the second highest after Uttar Pradesh, the largest populated state of the country. During a visit to Delhi recently when Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar sought time call on Shah, he was not obliged and a request for an appointment was turned down on the ground that the BJP President was busy.

Nitish Kumar wanted to discuss with BJP president Amit Shah seat allocation. But Shah was busy and could not spare time for him. As a result, Nitish Kumar had to return after discussing the issue with BJP general secretary Ram Lal, said a senior JD (U) leader.”

The Shiv Sena, old ally of BJP in Maharashtra was the first to raise the banner of revolt. An apex decision-making body of the party through a resolution passed in its meeting on January 23 broke its decades-old ties with the BJP announcing it would no longer partner with the BJP in elections. All those who are well-versed with the politics of Maharashtra’s had long back anticipated such a move by Shiv Sena given its frequent criticism of BJP-led state government.

Given the political calculations of Maharashtra, Shiv Sena has no option other than allying with either of the two national parties Congress or the BJP. Uddhav Thackeray, the unquestioned leader of the major faction of Sena might turn to Congress in the hope of forging an alliance. Though, the top state Congress leaders including former Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan sending overtures to the Sena leaders indicating the oldest party of India Congress is not averse to having an alliance with Shiv Sena for upcoming elections to the lower House of Parliament.

“Let the Shiv Sena first withdraw support to the Fadnavis government… The Congress leadership might then consider an alliance,” Chavan was quoted as saying in a report.” Despite whatever former Congress Chief Minister says about the possibility of a Congress-Shiv Sena alliance in the run up to the Lok Sabha elections, it seems an elusive dream for state Congress leaders because party’s central leadership in no circumstances could afford to enter into any kind of electoral or political understanding with Shiv Sena as Congress has always dubbed Sena as a communal party. Hence, having any kind of alliance or understanding with a communal party would amount to Congress losing its influence among minorities that hold key to the elections in many major states in the country.

On the contrary, the BJP that calls Shiv Sena as its natural ally and says staying with the BJP is the only way out for Shiv Sena despite the party snapping ties after passing a resolution. It would return to NDA’s fold after some time as it is evident from the fact that Sena continues to be a part of the coalition governments in Maharashtra as well as at the centre.

The Telugu Desam Party is the third key ally of the BJP after Shiv Sena and JD (U) that has threatened to part ways with the BJP and break electoral alliance ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha elections as the relations between the two allies are on the rock following refusal by the central government for granting Andhra Pradesh the status of special category state.

With the popularity graph of the Prime Minister Modi declining has forced the TDP chief and AP Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu to revisit on his party relations with BJP as further continuation of such an alliance could mar the party electoral prospects in the forthcoming Lok Sabha election.

Jaganmohan Reddy, son of former Chief Minister of united Andhra Pradesh YS Rajshekhar Reddy has emerged as another powerful player in AP politics. His party YSR Congress, a regional outfit is second largest party in the state assembly after TDP and currently has no alliance with any of the national party.  In case alliance between BJP and TDP gets derailed, Jaganmohan could emerge as a possible ally of the BJP, which he has been hinted.

Why BJP leadership seems not serious about continuing with an alliance with its traditional ally TDP because it has found two potential allies YSR Congress in AP and Telengana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) in Telengana region in the aftermath of the division of erstwhile Andhra Pradesh state. The plethora of cases against Jaganmohan Reddy for having amassed wealth during his father rule is the main cause of worry for the BJP. The Congress had sidelined Jaganmohan Reddy for the same reason. Any possibility of a future understanding between Congress and the TDP could also spoil BJP’s party chances in the newly carved state.

For the BJP it is a tight rope walk ahead because on the one hand it will have to use all its political might to ensure that all the constituents of NDA stay together and united and secondly to look out for new partners to make up the possible loss the BJP is set to suffer to its existing tally. Moreover, the formation of next BJP-led NDA government at the centre would depend more on allies than the BJP itself.

 (Kushal Jeena)