FRIEND IN­DEED

The BJP val­ues its al­lies more than ever

DNA (Delhi) - - OPINION -

In spite of win­ning 282 seats, un­der the lead­er­ship of Naren­dra Modi in 2014, the BJP was gra­cious enough to thank its al­lies and ac­knowl­edge their con­tri­bu­tions. In the last four years, dif­fer­ences may have cropped up within the NDA al­liance, but both PM Modi and BJP Pres­i­dent Amit Shah have on reg­u­lar in­ter­vals reached out to al­lies to ad­dress their griev­ances. Now in 2019, the BJP’s stand on its al­lies re­mains as stead­fast as ever. In his in­ter­ac­tion with party booth-level work­ers from five dis­tricts in Tamil Nadu through video-con­fer­enc­ing, PM Modi said that the BJP is “open to al­liances and cher­ished old friends”. This is in sync — as the PM him­self ac­knowl­edged — with the vi­sion of for­mer PM, AB Va­j­payee, who suc­cess­fully ran a coali­tion gov­ern­ment. Va­j­payee steered a coali­tion of 21 po­lit­i­cal par­ties with dif­fer­ent ide­olo­gies for six-and-a-half years — an un­prece­dented feat. In 2014, the BJP had led a six-party al­liance in Tamil Nadu — com­pris­ing among oth­ers, the DMDK, the PMK and Vaiko-led MDMK — and won two seats. While the bond has long dis­in­te­grated, the BJP hasn’t given up on an al­liance. It has kept its op­tions open in an elec­toral field where AIADMK, DMK or ac­tor-turned-politi­cian Ra­jinikanth can emerge as strong play­ers. It’s worth not­ing that some al­lies who had been silent for ma­jor­ity of the five-year-term be­came vo­cal in their crit­i­cism of the BJP fol­low­ing the lat­ter’s per­for­mance in the lat­est spell of assem­bly polls. Mean­while, the TDP headed by Chan­drababu Naidu was the only big ally to quit the al­liance. Long be­fore the PM’s re­cent in­ter­ac­tion with party work­ers in Tamil Nadu, the BJP’s out­reach pro­gramme for its al­lies had be­gun. In June last year, BJP Pres­i­dent Shah met up with lead­ers of Shi­ro­mani Akali Dal in Pun­jab and Shiv Sena in Ma­ha­rash­tra to firm up ties. The Sena has proved to be a dif­fi­cult friend, never pass­ing up an op­por­tu­nity to nee­dle the BJP. How­ever, it re­mains to be seen if the Sena ac­tu­ally has the courage to walk out of the al­liance. The BJP’s loss in by­polls in a few states had be­come a wake-up call for the party. It needed to re­cal­i­brate its strat­egy to get back its win­ning streak. The close con­test in the assem­bly polls in Ra­jasthan and MP showed that though anti-in­cum­bency is a fac­tor, it isn’t strong enough to seal the fate of the BJP. Some­times, na­tional in­ter­ests trump re­gional as­pi­ra­tions as was ev­i­dent in As­sam when Asom Gana Parishad de­cided to call off its part­ner­ship with BJP. To put mat­ters in per­spec­tive, the BJP is not look­ing at op­por­tunis­tic friend­ships, which are de­void of in­tel­lec­tual moor­ings. Which is why, the PM drew a dis­tinc­tion be­tween his party and the Con­gress-led Rahul Gandhi. After be­ing “dumped” by the SP and the BSP in Ut­tar Pradesh, Gandhi is singing a dif­fer­ent tune, talk­ing about the sur­prises his party is ca­pa­ble of in the state. It seems he sim­ply doesn’t want to take a back seat after a few years in wilder­ness.

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