Major parties find it hard to get allies
At the BJP national council meeting in New Delhi last weekend, key leaders of the ruling party continued to take aim at the “Mahagathbandhan”, or the grand alliance of the “secular” parties, for seeking to challenge the saffron “dictatorship”, the description of the BJP government put forward by the Congress Party. Interestingly, vitriolic speeches at the BJP forum were made against the very idea of Opposition parties combining even as leaders of Uttar Pradesh’s top regional parties, Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav, were announcing that they had joined hands to defeat the BJP, but kept the Congress out of their alliance.
The plain truth is that there doesn’t appear to be any “Mahagathbandhan” in the offing to take on the government. The Congress-led UPA of an earlier era has simply failed to take off as a serious all-encompassing platform of anti-BJP forces.
Except in Maharashtra and Bihar, where the Congress proposes to come together with regional parties (NCP and RJD respectively) for the Lok Sabha polls, there is no sign yet of any other publicised alliance on the “secular” side. An alliance in Karnataka between the Congress and JD(S) is within the bounds of feasibility, but there’s no formal word yet from either party.
The same story holds good on the BJP’s side. The NDA, as an idea, seems to have slid into the past. Back in 2014, the BJP is said to have displayed the sound sense to band together with several anti-Congress parties. Its move was then contrasted with that of the Congress, which was becoming known as a party that can’t keep allies. Such a sweeping formulation no longer appears to be in consonance with the ground reality. Except for the Akali Dal in Punjab, a small state in the overall scheme of things, the BJP doesn’t have any firm allies in the bag as of now. If there are too many leaders on the “secular” side nursing the ambition to become Prime Minister, on the BJP side the weightier anti-Congress parties no longer seek accommodation in a BJP-led electoral front before the Lok Sabha polls. The Telugu Desam has turned anti-BJP, although it is not yet clear if it will enter into a formal alliance with the Congress.
In the main, the likeliest scenario is that of regional parties linking up with the Congress or the BJP only in a post-poll alliance, with the larger of these two standing a better chance of attracting allies to form the government. Thus, the Congress versus BJP jostling will continue.
The plain truth is that there doesn’t appear to be any ‘Mahagathbandhan’ in the offing to take on the government. The Congress-led UPA of an earlier era has simply failed to take off.