By Harihar Swarup
Alliances are being firmed up by both the Congress and the BJP in run up to Lok Sabha elections. This indicates that neither the Congress nor the BJP may get a majority and they have to depend on allies. Is the coalition era returning? If it returns, it is not good for the country because it means poor governance. One hopes in the event of a coalition, it should be a workable one and be able to rule effectively. The Centre cannot afford instability. A BJP leader said going solo in polls helps neither Congress nor BJP.
This is symptomatic of the challenges the Congress faces in forging an Opposition alliance against the BJP for Lok Sabha poll. While inter-party disagreement has installed Opposition unity in Uttar Pradesh, dissent within the party has blocked an alliance against the BJP in Delhi.
Here is glimpse of some of the alliances that have been forged so far. Former Union Minister Ajit Singh -led Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) will contest three Lok Sabha seats in alliance with Samajwadi party and BSP in Uttar Pradesh. While announcing this arrangement SP Chief Akhilesh Yadav reiterated that the Congress was “very much” a part of the larger grand alliance because two seats have been left for it. The statement is significant whose ramification may be seen later.
The SP and BSP announced their alliance for the national polls in UP, saying they would contest 37 and 38 seats respectively. They said their parties would not field candidates in Amethi and Rai Bareli, the constituencies of Congress President Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi respectively.
Three seats—Mathura, Muzaffarnagar and and Baghpat in Western U.P.—have now been given to the RLD, which has a strong base in the region.
RLD general secretary, Jayant Chaudhary, said they would campaign in all 80 Lok Sabha seats with SP and BSP but will put up candidates in three seats. Jayant will contest one seat, Ajit Singh another, while an SP leader will contest third seat on an RLD ticket. Also the Kairana seat, which is with RLD now, is back with SP.
Importantly, after Phulwama attack, the two sides( SP and Congress) appear keen to reopen the channels to put up a formidable challenge to the BJP in the upcoming elections. Though no Congress leader detailed at what level the discussions were being held, sources said, that the talks centered on whether the Congress could be given a total of 10 seats. This shows the Congress is a part of the Grand Alliance, Akhilesh said.
In Bihar it has become inevitable for the BJP to further strength existing alliance with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. The BJP, therefore, sacrificed five of its sitting Lok Sabha MPs to finalize its alliance with Janata Dal (United). The poll scenario in Bihar is turning out quite interesting. Several years of imprisonment has evoked strong sympathy for Lalu Prasad Yadav and, along with Congress as its ally, the combine may put up a formidable electoral fight. Nitish Kumar has not come up to the mark and anti-incumbency against him is quite strong. The BJP could not make much headway in the last assembly election and a coalition had to be formed with Nitish Kumar. Modi magic did not work in the last poll and in the coming Lok Sabha election the PM’s mass appeal is not as powerful as in 2014 poll.
The year 2019 will do down in the history of Tamil Nadu’s politics as more than an election year. The year will be the first to witness in several decades the absence of one formidable leader who drove and redefined the politics of Tamil Nadu for well over half a century and another who worked through a mess to sustain her party as a Dravidian major. But unlike the former, M. Karunanidhi who had a well chartered plan for succession in place, the later, Jayalalitha left the party as exactly as she had inherited it ; in a mess.
Yet, for now, the run-up to elections in Tamil Nadu is as heated as any other election the state has faced.
Led by chief minister Edappadi K Pazhanisamy, and dy. CM O. Paneerselvam, the AIADMK has stitched together what is now seen as a mega alliance. Under the alliance, the PMK will contest seven seats and BJP five. On the other hand, the DMK has allotted ten seats to the Congress in alliance while still being in talks with other partners.
The electoral alliances, especially that of the AIADMK’s is a marked departure from what happened in 2014. The 2014 election saw both DMK and the AIADMK fronts keeping the BJP and the PMK away, leading to the formation of the third front. While the Modi wave swept the country, in Tamil Nadu the third front faced a humiliating defeat with the AIADMK winning 37 of 39 seats.
Evidently, the AIADMK today has stitched up this alliance with the BJP and PMK hoping that the parties will help the state government survive—a scenario perhaps inconceivable under Jayalalitha. As part of electoral understanding, the PMK and the BJP have also promised support to the AIADMK in the by polls to 21 assemblies—something that will decide the party’s fate as the ruling entity.
With equations having changed, there will be some surprises that may define the course of Tamil Nadu politics. (IPA Service)