As allies leave NDA, does BJP care?
NDA ally JD(U) is the latest to call it quits with Nitish Kumar walking out
The NDA led by the Bharatiya Janata Party, in power at the Centre, might be facing a peculiar problem. Looking back at the affairs of the saffron alliance, the past 20 months or so, it would become clear that the allies, at least some of them, aren’t very comfortable with the policies of the major party of the alliance.
The walking out of Nitish Kumar and his JD(U) party comes as a clear indication of the state of affairs in the alliance that rules the country. The JD(U), in fact, is the third major ally to end tis with the NDA in the past 18-month period. Earlier, the Shiv Sena and the Akali Dal had decided to halt all relations with the BJP led alliance. The second term of the NDA is now poorer by three allies.
This could be seen as a problem for the NDA and BJP in particular as the nation gears up for the general elections in less than two years. With strongman Nitish also gone, the NDA has been rendered poorer. But then, history stands witness to a Nitish walkout earlier too. Alliance partner Nitish had walked out in a huff in 2017 too, only to be pacified and brought back to the NDA fold once again. The latest is Nitish calling it quits the second time in nine years.
NDA poorer by three allies in 18 months
What JD(U)’s walk out from the NDA means for the BJP is that it has yet again been left with the task of consolidating the saffron presence in the east of India. The Bharatiya Janata Party remains as weak as it used to be, in West Bengal, Odisha and Bihar, at the moment. And, that is not a problem that needs to be ignored when the party would look for a third term when the Lok Sabha elections of 2024 concludes.
Taking into account the BJP’s weakness in states like West Bengal, Odisha and Bihar, and also the southern region like Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, the NDA alliance would have work overtime to find a solution to the problems that are piling up in the political terrain. The solace, however, is that the BJP continues to hold fort in large states such as Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, with a total of 128 seats in the lower house of parliament.
The feelers that has been coming out of the NDA alliance is that the allies are increasingly uncomfortable with the BJP. That could explain the dropping out of parties from the big grouping. That could be one way of looking at it, but the BJP, on its side, could also see it as a great opportunity to work towards establishing a stronger presence without the help of the allies who have left the NDA. The party will not have to play second fiddle to the regional strongmen of the allies to further their plans.
LS polls and the BJP
It remains to be seen how the largest party in the NDA would look at things with a LS poll perspective. With or without the allies, the BJP would eye a major win and third term in office. That doesn’t mean it would be concerned about the squabbles that have resulted in the dropping out of major allies. The party might be working on that too.
However, this could be an opportunity for the Opposition to work on something bigger. Sadly, they seem to be sleeping. One wonders why nothing concrete is being done from the Opposition to make the most of such a situation. The BJP could already be on it to find viable solutions, but the Opposition will to seize the opportunity seems lacking.