Opposition coalescing, as allies desert NDA

Kalyani Shankar
The BJP is getting poll ready, going by the aggressive statements of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the party chief Amit Shah. Also the media advertisements indicate a “Modi shining” mood, ahead of the 2019 polls. Shah, known for his micro-management, has already started working at the constituency level identifying weak states. But new coalitions are taking shape, and by 2019, there will be changed political equations.
Interestingly, there are already speculations whether the ‘Modi magic’ is waning and whether the BJP will return with a majority in 2019. Added to that is the fact that three of the four BJP’s major alliance partners – Shiv Sena, TDP and PDP are not in the alliance now. While the BJP was able to win 282 seats in 2014, the party has to work hard in at least 15 states.
The Bharatiya Janata Party has come a long way from 2014. Today, it is the richest party with a 100 million members. It has spread its tentacles far and wide and has become a pan national party even capturing some states in the northeast. However, Odisha, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Kerala, Delhi, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry are difficult states where the party is not strong. The recent break up with the PDP in Jammu and Kashmir also indicates an uncertainty in the state.
The party has no allies in the South after the TDP quit the NDA this year. In Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, the regional satraps, K Chandrashekhar Rao and Chandrababu Naidu, are firmly in the saddle. Tamil Nadu is a confused scene with fighting among the Dravidian parties reaching its peak, but the BJP has difficulty in improving its position, as it has not developed charismatic strong leaders in the state, nor is it invested in the Dravidian ideology that’s at the core of Tamil Nadu politics. Though it narrowly missed forming the government in Karnataka recently, if the Congress-JD(S) coalition works, the BJP will be at a disadvantage. Kerala continues to be oscillating between the UDF and the LDF. In Puducherry, the Congress is firmly established.
In 2014, out of the 248 seats in six major states, the NDA managed to get 224. But this time around, it may not be a cakewalk for them. The Gujarat results show that the party has to pull up its socks as it will be difficult to win all the 26 seats it won last time. The farmers and the youth are disenchanted with the party and it was the last minute Modi campaign that saved the party in the Assembly polls.  Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state, which is in the pocket of the BJP, is giving some concerns after the recent bye poll defeats in Gorakhpur and Phulpur. The stakes are very high as the BJP won 71 seats in 2014 and performed exceedingly well in the subsequent Assembly polls. The BJP cannot ignore the changing mood.
In Rajasthan the BJP won all the 25 seats in 2014. But going by the present mood, the chief minister Vasundhara Raje is not popular and the party is stuck with her. The anti incumbency is staring in its face in Rajasthan. The Congress is reviving going by the recent bye poll results. The forthcoming Assembly polls will indicate the future scenario.
In Madhya Pradesh too, the party is facing considerable anti incumbency with chief minister Shiv Raj Singh Chouhan bidding for power for the fourth consecutive time and it will be one of the dominant factors in the forthcoming Assembly polls. If the Congress gets united the chances of the BJP win will be doubtful. Here too the party won 27 out of 29 seats in 2014.
Bihar is an interesting case after the return of the Nitish Kumar led JD (U) to the NDA fold, Last time, Nitish was part of the grand alliance with the Congress and the RJD. The BJP and its allies won 31 of the 40 seats in 2014. With the changed political equations, it is imperative for the BJP to do well. For this it has to keep the alliances with the smaller parties in tact.
In Maharashtra, the oldest BJP ally Shiv Sena has at last broken ties with the BJP and declared that it will go it alone in the next polls, though its minister continues to remain in Modi cabinet. Sena was the first ally to break away from the NDA alliance. In 2014, the BJP Sena combine won 42 of the 48 seats with Sena getting 18. If the Congress and the Sharad Pawar led NCP combine work together, the BJP might be in trouble.
However, the BJP also has many advantages. It has a committed cadre, unlimited financial resources, articulate leaders, effective alliance partners in some states and above all its good communicative skills. Ultimately, it is the mood of the voters, which matters. If the BJP manages to manage the economy well with the GDP expected at 7.6 per cent, a good monsoon, proper selection of candidates, effective alliance partners and a good campaign might save the BJP a decent number to form the government. The BJP’s win or defeat depends on the opposition unity.   If the opposition remains divided, then Dame Luck may smile again at the saffron party. (IPA)