The BJP's sweeping Lok Sabha poll victory has begun to weigh on the opposition ranks with alliances showing signs of break-up and most parties facing infighting and desertions.
The BJP’s sweeping Lok Sabha poll victory has begun to weigh on the opposition ranks with alliances showing signs of break-up and most parties facing infighting and desertions. The rumblings within most of the non-NDA parties are growing louder as leaders and workers appear restive and edgy. The ‘mahagathbandhan’ of Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and Rashtriya Lok Dal in Uttar Pradesh has become the first casualty of saffron dominance in India’s biggest state, with BSP supremo Mayawati breaking ranks and blaming the “ineffective” SP for the losses.
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav virtually conceded that the “trial” was unsuccessful. The three parties have decided to go solo in the state bypolls. In Karnataka too, the Janata Dal (Secular) is feeling the heat with state chief A H Vishwanath quitting the party, citing troubles in the ruling alliance with the Congress. Despite claims to the contrary by the two parties, cracks in the alliance are emerging with several leaders ready to jump ship to join the BJP in Karnataka.
The Lok Sabha poll result acted as a catalyst for some Trinamool Congress leaders in West Bengal, including two MLAs, to join the BJP along with a horde of their followers. An aggressive BJP, after winning 18 Lok Sabha seats in the eastern state, is claiming that a number of other legislators of Mamata Banerjee’s party are ready to join it. There is disquiet within the Congress unit in Rajasthan, where a blame game over the party’s rout in recent Lok Sabha polls has begun between Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and his deputy Sachin Pilot.
Similar reports are also coming from Madhya Pradesh, where the ruling Congress is struggling to keep its flock together and save its government, which is being run with the support of the BSP and independents. The unease in Gujarat Congress is also growing amid speculation that some of its MLAs may join the saffron camp. In Harayana, there was open finger-pointing by leaders during a meeting of the state co-ordination committee recently.
The Congress had failed to open its account in Haryana, Rajasthan and Gujarat and won only one seat in MP in Lok Sabha elections. The dissensions within the Maharashtra Congress have also come out in the open with senior party leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil resigning as an MLA, amid speculation that he may join the BJP and the state cabinet. The former leader of opposition in state Assembly submitted his resignation as an MLA to Assembly Speaker Haribhau Bagade, who accepted it along with that of Congress MLA Abdul Sattar and state minister Girish Bapat.
Sattar said many more Congress MLAs are likely to quit the party soon. There are reports that in Jammu and Kashmir also, the National Conference, which was in alliance with the Congress, is seeking to contest alone in the assembly polls whenever the Election Commission declares them. The BSP has also broken ties with with ex-BJP member Raj Kumar Saini’s party in Haryana.
Though TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee has put up a brave face and vowed to fight back before the 2021 Assembly elections, the feisty leader is visibly rankled over the BJP’s inroads and even losing her cool at “Jai Shri Ram” slogans by BJP supporters.
The ruling Congress-JD(S) coalition in Karnataka is in a disarray after the rout in the Lok Sabha polls, with fears of BJP’s onslaught and dissidence within looming large over the one-year-old government led by H D Kumaraswamy. Discordant voices have emerged in both the parties blaming the partnership for the poll debacle, with Kumaraswamy offering to resign which was promptly rejeted by the Congress. With their existence at stake, leaders of Congress and JD(S) have decided to continue with the coalition, despite internal rumblings that have raised questions about the longevity of the government.
The two are reviving the coordination panel while seeking to create harmony between them. Amid simmering discontent within the Congress, the coalition leaders fear that the BJP, spurred by its spectacular performance in the Lok Sabha polls in which it bagged 25 of the 28 Lok Sabha seats in Karnataka, may poach some MLAs. Since the dismal show, dissidence activities, especially in Congress have spiked with rebel party MLA Ramesh Jarkiholi, who has been hobnobbing with the BJP, meeting BJP leader S M Krishna in the presence of B S Yeddyurappa. Jarkiholi had threatened to quit Congress soon after Lok Sabha polls.
The party leaders have gone into a huddle with the Chief Minister and have worked out a plan to go in for cabinet expansion by asking a few ministers to resign to make way for disgruntled MLAs. Two MLAs Nagesh and R Shankar withdrew their support to the government, as Shankar was dropped from the cabinet during the reshuffle in December. Senior Congress MLAs Roshan Baig and Ramalinga Reddy have openly hit out at state party leadership, accusing it of sidelining seniors and blaming its style of functioning for the “disastrous” performance. Political observers believe that the growing differences within the Congress after the poll rout are a bigger threat to the government, even as the BJP may lure some MLAs to pull it down.
In Telangana, buoyed by its impressive performance in Lok Sabha polls, the BJP plans to project itself as an alternative to the ruling TRS by 2023 assembly polls and replicate its Karnataka success.