If the BJP doesn’t cross 250-mark in 2019, Modi will suddenly realise how upset his party’s allies really are.
A senior Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) leader from Punjab told me a few weeks ago that his party was “fed up” with the BJP.
“(Prime Minister) Narendra Modi and (BJP president) Amit Shah say they want a Congress-mukt Bharat. But as things stand now, while the Congress may survive the BJP onslaught, it is the NDA allies like us who are staring at complete annihilation. These people don’t believe in political niceties,” the leader said.
What this leader was saying was that allies like SAD (B) don’t have any problem with the BJP; their problem is with the two people running the party.
This concern is shared by leaders of several other NDA constituents, none of whom have a problem with the BJP – their issue is with the Modi- Shah duopoly.
The same can be said about a lot of Modi’s senior cabinet colleagues, many of whom are uncomfortable with their falling stature — within and outside the government and the party. They are also concerned about the unchecked growth in the stature of the duo from Gujarat.
In getting JD(U) MP Harivansh Narayan Singh elected as the Rajya Sabha deputy chairman, Modi and the BJP may have won yet another election. It has also brought Naveen Patnaik’s Biju Janata Dal (BJD) closer to the NDA even though the BJP’s stated aim is to rid Odisha of Patnaik’s rule.
The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), which rules Telangana, also voted for the NDA candidate, something that brought cheer to the BJP leadership.
Despite these developments, Modi and Shah would do well to read the warning signs emanating in the deeds and words of their current allies. The allies are upset and are hoping the BJP wouldn’t reach the magical number of 272.
That SAD is upset is not even news now. For almost three years, there has been talk of BJP trying to end the alliance with its oldest and most-trusted ally. The Akali party has also been holding secret parleys with the BSP in the hope that the party, which claims to represent Dalits and the marginalised, will get it more heft among the 31-plus per cent Dalits in Punjab’s population.
Pinpricks notwithstanding, we will most likely see both parties seeking votes together in 2019. What happens post the election results should worry the Modi-Shah duo. If the BJP falls short of the 272 mark, SAD may very well refuse to back Modi for the top job.
Ditto for several other allies.
When Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut laments that the NDA is in coma now and recalls that things were different when Vajpayee was PM, he is sending out a clear message to the Modi-Shah duo.
The Shiv Sena, despite its repeated flip-flops over where it continues to be part of the NDA or not, may finally snap ties before the 2019 elections. What worries Shiv Sena leaders is that the BJP under Modi and Shah wants to finish it politically.
Shiv Sena leaders have often said that Nitin Gadkari is more acceptable as PM than Modi.
The Telugu Desam Party has also walked out of the NDA. While the stated reason is the failure of the Modi government to fulfill the promise of granting special category status to Andhra Pradesh, the fact remains that the N. Chandrababu Naidu-led party was jittery over the BJP’s attempts to get closer to rival Y. S. Jaganmohan Reddy’s YSR Congress Party.
Even though the JD (U) voted for its own man for the post of Rajya Sabha deputy chairman, it is common knowledge that the party is desperate to return to the Mahagathbandhan.
Recent statements by senior BJP leaders taking potshots at Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar on the issue of shielding the accused and his erring minister Manju Verma (who later resigned) involved in the alleged rapes at the Muzaffarpur shelter home, have only added to the distrust. Nitish knows that if he continues in the NDA, he will be a pale shadow of his old self after 2019. However, the opposition is not too keen to accept him back with open arms.
Privately, his close aides also blame Modi-Shah duo for his sorry plight.
Among the other allies, Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party is clearly hedging, while the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) of Upendra Kushwaha is also upset.
AGP’s Prafulla Mahanta is also concerned over the BJP’s push for the Citizenship Bill.
If, and it remains a big if, the BJP doesn’t cross 250-mark in 2019, Modi will suddenly realise that how upset the allies really are.