By Gyan Pathak
BJP president Amit Shah has been going through a very tough time right from the grassroots to the national level. There is every indication that the party is not only losing a large number of seats in the coming Lok Sabha elections, but also seeing depletion of the umber of NDA’s partners with political clout. NDA in Maharashtra has been cracking for a long time and has reached so close to a break that not less than the BJP president himself has told the party cadre to prepare for a solo battle in while a miffed Shivsena has called BJP arrogant.
In this backdrop Amit Shah’s statement that the NDA will cross 300 seats is just hoping against hope. Presently, NDA has only 305 seats in the Lok Sabha, 30 less than the number it had in September 2015. If Shivsena quits, the alliance will be reduced to 287 seats. TDP, the other major alliance partner, has already quit in March this years. BJP’s claim that the number of NDA partners has been increasing is right, because it has risen from 35 in September 2015 to 45 at present. Hearing this may be very pleasant to the BJP supporters, but the truth is bitter.
Out of these 45 NDA partners, BJP is the only national party and has presently 268 seats in the Lok Sabha, a fall from 272 in 2014. All other alliance partners are either state parties or unrecognized political parties. Barring Shivsena, no other political party is in a position to win any significant number of seats, but Shivsena is not happy with the BJP. There are 13 state parties in the alliance, including Shivsena. The other twelve are Shiromani Akali Dal of Punjab, All India N R Congress of Puducherry, Naga People’s Front of Nagaland, Lok Janshakti Party and Rashtriya Lok Samata Party of Bihar, Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam of Tamil Nadu, Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party of Maharashtra, All Jharkhand Students Union of Jharkhand, National People’s Party of Meghalaya, and Pattali Makkal Katchi of Tamil Nadu. LJP has presently 6 eats, SAD 4, PMK one, NR Congress one, JD(U) 2, Sikkim Democratic Front one, and National Democratic Progressive Party of Nagaland has one seat. It means only eight political parties out of 45 in the alliance have seats in the Lok Sabha. Thus 37 political parties in the alliance have no real worth in terms of winning seats. Barring the BJP and Shivsena, the 43 other alliance partners have only 16 seats.
The recent assembly election results of the three states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh have already signaled considerable loss to the BJP in the coming Lok Sabha poll, and Uttar Pradesh, which sent 71 BJP MPs out of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state in 2014, is undergoing a political churning. SP and BSP are very close to having and alliance against the BJP.
The impending loss to BJP is obvious, which is indirectly admitted even by the BJP president when he claimed in Agartala that the North East states and West Bengal will help NDA to cross 300 seats. When asked by journalists how many seats he expected from the region, he said 50. On the one hand, getting 50 seats from the region is highly ambitious, and on the others it is an indirect statement that the NDA may not get more than 250 seats from rest of the country. Even if the present alliance partners retain their 34 seats, BJP is reduced to 216 in his own estimate.
There are 25 seats in the North East and 42 in West Bengal. BJP has only 9 seats from the region. If NDA is to get 50 seats, the maximum number should come from its partners. The problem with the BJP is that it has no alliance partner in West Bengal. Its alliance partners in the North East could contribute some, but not to the extent of all the 25 seats that the NDA hopes for, easing the burden on the BJP to win at least 25 seats from West Bengal on its own. Political observers estimate that NDA could win only 11-13 seats from the North East. Even the National Register for Citizenship for Assam is not going to help them in the state from where BJP has only 7 seats out of 14. If NDA is not going to win more than 13 seats from the North East, BJP must win 37 seats from West Bengal to reach the tally of 50 seats from the North East and West Bengal. This amounts to day-dreaming!
Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh are clearly showing ominous signs to the BJP as the party will have to fight on its own. It has a very weak alliance partner in Uttar Pradesh named Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party, which is so weak that one can bet very few people even in the state know about it. There is no other alliance partner is the rest of the four states. There are two alliance partners in Bihar – LJP and JD(U). They have at present only 6 and 2 seats in the Lok Sabha while the BJP has 22 seats from the state. Seat sharing has already been finalised among the three. BJP and the JD(U) will contest 17 seats each while LJP will contest six. The Nitish rule in Bihar has earned a bad name recently, and the BJP shares this. NDA’s prospect is, therefore, not very bright there also. BJP has one alliance partner AJSU in Jharkhand, but both are in bad shape. One cannot also fail to see the anti-incumbency in the state. Shivsena, even it remains with NDA, is not in a position to help much. They may also lose their present seats. Shiromani Akali Dal in Punjab is already low in morale. The rest of the alliance partners are very small in terms of seats or in terms of influence.
The alliance partners that have deserted NDA since 2014 are: Haryana Janhit Congress (BL), MDMK of Tamil Nadu (2014), DMDK of Tamil Nadu, Revolutionary Socialist Party of Kerala (Bolshevik), Swabhimani Paksha of Maharashtra, TDP of Andhra Pradesh, PDP of Jammu and Kashmir, KPJP of Karnataka, Rashtriya Lok Samata Party of Bihar, and Gorkha Janmukti Morcha of West Bengal. (IPA Service)