SP and BSP, The allies, which have a potential to call the shots in Uttar Pradesh has left only Rae Bareli and Amethi for the Congress
With barely six weeks left for the announcement of the schedule for the 17th Lok Sabha elections, both the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and the principal opposition Congress still seem to be groping for a winning formula.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led NDA, which had been sitting pretty for the past four years as the Congress party suffered a string of losses, is suddenly rattled by reverses in the Hindi heartland States of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. Adding to its woes has been shrewd alliances that many regional parties have been assiduously working on to challenge near domination that the Narendra Modi-led government had enjoyed in the past four years.
The BJP’s biggest vote catcher, PM Modi has responded to the challenge in the usual combative style. BJP under Modi and his confidant party president Amit Shah has always believed in ‘winner takes all’ brand of politics. However, it is now coming in their way to strike alliances and cutting deals. Allies often ignored for the better part of the government tenure are acting tough.
Taking advantage of the situation, the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) of Ram Vilas Paswan has extracted concession from the BJP and will contest Lok Sabha six seats from Bihar, along with getting a Rajya Sabha for its leader. Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) of Upendra Khushwaha has meanwhile walked out of the NDA and hopes to join the bandwagon of Rashtriya Janata Dal of Lalu Prsad Yadav. Apna Dal, which has two MP in the current Lok Sabha, has begun to flex muscles to extract a better deal from the BJP.
The proposed amendment to Citizenship Act has alienated its ally Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and many others in the northeast part of the country, which has often resented people crossing over from Bangladesh.
Stunned by the Congress victories in Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, the Modi government pushed through a Constitution amendment providing for 10% quota in government jobs and educational for economically weaker sections of the society. Plans are afoot to announce a series of sops for the farmers and the middle class in the interim budget slated for February 1.
Though there may be palpable tension in the ruling alliance, but the Congress has not much to celebrate its victories in the three Hindi heartland States. The regional satraps of the Samajwadi Party (SP), the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) have decided to leave the grand old party out of the grand alliance they have built. The allies, which have a potential to call the shots in Uttar Pradesh has left only Rae Bareli and Amethi for the Congress. The two seats are currently held by Congress president Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia Gandhi.
The Congress party remains a marginal player in Bihar, largely dependent on RJD supremo Laloo Yadav’s generosity. In West Bengal too the grand old party will face an uphill task as Trinamool Congress is unlikely to make major concessions to it.
The regional parties may be positioning to challenge the Modi government in their strongholds, but Congress is facing diminishing political space.
The political atmosphere remains dense as all work on strategies to grab the top slot.