Modi must learn from mistakes and stitch together a strong coalition to retain power

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Updated: March 09, 2019 9:15 PM

BJP has realised the importance of stitching strong coalitions ahead of Lok Sabha elections. BJP feels that it will be difficult for any party to form government at the Centre without the support of regional parties.

Lok Sabha Election 2019: Several allies are upset as they feel that BJP under Modi-Shah combine has been more assertive with them.

Lok Sabha Election 2019: The Bhartiya Janata Party is in the process of creating a strong alliance with regional partners as it looks to retain power at the Centre in the Lok Sabha elections which are just round the corner. Perhaps the party has realised the importance of pre-poll alliances in the absence of a strong wave in favour of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The party has already declared seat sharing pacts in several key states such as Maharashtra, Bihar and Tamil Nadu.

“These alliances with regional parties are very important in a federal setup like India. The regional parties best represent local identity. They need representation at the Centre as none of them can form the government at the Centre on its own,” said senior BJP leader R Seshadri Chari. It is also important for national parties to forge alliances with regional players so that regional aspirations and identities are protected and are represented at the Centre, Mr Chari told told Financial Express Online.

The BJP was forced to look for alliances because an alliance between the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party in Uttar Pradesh had upset its election calculations. The combined vote share of these two regional players in India’s most populous state was higher than the BJP’s in 2014 Lok Sabha elections, when the party rode a Narendra Modi wave to win 73 states from UP along with allies.

The combined vote share of SP and BSP in 2017 Uttar Pradesh assembly election was 50 per cent, nearly 9% more than that of the BJP and its allies, but due to division in opposition votes, BJP was able to win 312 of 400 seats on its own. This time round, the alliance between SP and BSP has emerged as the biggest hurdle in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s bid for a second term.

The possibility of a fall in its UP tally has compelled the BJP to forge alliances in key states like Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Bihar, Jharkhand and others. In Maharashtra, the BJP was also able to placate its sulking ally Shiv Sena by accepting most of its demands.

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BJP has lost several allies during the last five years. Andhra Pradesh chief minister and TDP supremo N Chandrababu Naidu not only walked away from the NDA owing to serious differences with the BJP leadership but also emerged as a key force in forging a pan India alliance against the BJP.

Similarly, Jitan Ram Manjhi, former chief minister of Bihar and leader of Hindustani Awam Morcha walked away from the NDA to join the UPA in protest of the party’s decision to join hands with Nitish Kumar. Upendra Kushwaha, former union minister and leader of Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP) also resigned from the council of ministers to join the UPA owing to the difference over seat sharing for Lok Sabha elections.

In Uttar Pradesh, two junior partners having significant support base in backward communities are also upset with the BJP. Two BJP allies, Apna Dal leader and union minister Anupriya Patel and Om Prakash Rajbhar of Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) are unhappy with the BJP over seat sharing and other issues. Both the parties have significant support base in eastern Uttar Pradesh that played crucial role in BJP’s massive victory in 2014.

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These regional allies are upset as they feel that under Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah, the BJP has been assertive with its allies. The party also did not concede the post of chief minister in Maharashtra that left its oldest ally Shiv Sena sulking.

“That was because the party won decisively and it was Shiv Sena which parted ways with the BJP and paid a heavy price. Now they have realised that there is no point in fighting separately so they have come back. It suits the BJP also,” said Mr Chari.

“We have been looking for alliances in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Kerala and ultimately we will have an alliance in Uttar Pradesh and North-East as well,” he said.

Election Commission of India is expected to announce the dates and schedule for Lok Sabha Elections in next few days. The announcement of Lok Sabha election schedule will force the political parties to finalise their seat sharing pacts soon.

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