The BJP values its allies more than ever
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.