Faultlines appear in the NDA

General elections are still at least fifteen months away (unless the dates are advanced to November or December this year) but following the recent election reverses suffered by the BJP, faultlines have appeared in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). In Maharashtra, the Shiv Sena has parted company with the BJP. In Punjab the Akali Dal and in Andhra Pradesh the ruling Telugu Desham Party are making angry grunts and throwing dark hints that they may not sail under the NDA flag in the next elections. The Nationalist Congress Party is now seen to be coming close to the Congress. In Jammu and Kashmir it is a brittle alliance that binds the BJP with Mehbooba Mufti’s PDP.  If the BJP cannot do as well as it expects to in the coming State Assembly elections in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh and the Opposition emerges stronger, more allies in the NDA may find it convenient to veer away from the BJP.
In such a situation, new power equations may emerge in the BJP. That all BJP leaders and their followers are not happy with the present leadership of the party is quite well known. Former Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha has recently formed the Rashtriya Manch to oppose some of the policies of the NDA Government and have thrown a challenge to the BJP to throw him out if they can. Then there are others like former minister Arun Shourie and Shatrugan Sinha. They are certainly not mass leaders but they have a weight of their own. Shourie is known to be an eminent intellectual while Shatrughan Sinha, the ‘Bihari Babu’, has his own fan following. Individually they may not count for much but if they come together, they will be a force to reckon with – within the BJP.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi has been hinting for some time that after the next elections either there will be a UPA Government headed by the Congress or a weakened NDA Government headed by someone other than Narendra Modi. If this idea gains ground, those within the BJP who do not see eye to eye with Modi and his captaincy of the Government may find the courage to assert themselves. There is no doubt that in the last four years the government headed by Modi has not been able to tackle the major problems facing the country like unemployment, rural poverty, demand recession and attracting sizeable doses of investment. The next few months will be very critical for the NDA and its leaders. Their ability to hold the alliance together will be tested.

Saturday, 17 February, 2018