The grand alliance plan: Has it hit a wall?

The alliance conundrum will keep the sail smooth for BJP

Business & Politics

September 27, 2018

/ By / New Delhi


Will there be a grand alliance against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the next general elections, in early 2019? Political developments show there will not be a grand alliance as was expected. Does that leave the Congress in limbo and the BJP sailing smooth?

Serious questions have been raised over the prospects of a grand alliance among the non-BJP parties to take on the Modi-led government in the next 2019 general elections. The grand alliance was necessitated as the BJP decimated the Congress to a mere 44 seats in Lok Sabha in the 2014 elections and also won assembly poll in many states. Currently the BJP rules 21 states and controls governance for 70 pc of the Indian population. Their programmes, policies and attitude—especially against the minorities and socially weaker sections—have backfired in recent months. Capitalising on such a popular grouse, the opposition parties in fact won a few by polls across states especially in north India, where BJP is the ruling party except in Punjab.

Despite huddles, meetings and dinners, the grand alliance is yet to take off. Just forming an anti-BJP coalition and hate team for Modi alone will not suffice. There has to be a common platform, strategy and goals for a grand alliance. Though the goal of ousting the Modi government out of power is a well- known objective, the opposition parties have not been able to overcome their own personal political ambitions to serve the common goal.

In fact, the first salvo against the grand alliance has been fired by the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo and former Uttar Pradesh chief minister, Mayawati. Both the Congress and Mayawati were in talks over the seat arrangement for the crucial assembly polls in four states—Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Mizoram. Last week Mayawati tied up a poll alliance with former Congress chief minister and founder of Janata Congress Ajit Jogi, to fight assembly polls in Chhattisgarh. The BSP has also decided to contest all 230 assembly seats in another BJP-ruled state, Madhya Pradesh, effectively rejecting a pre-poll alliance with the Congress. The move by BSP had a ripple effect immediately. Following the BSP, the Samajwadi Party (SP) has walked out of the grand alliance or Mahagathbandhan and decided to contest the Madhya Pradesh Assembly elections alone.

Even as the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) are at an advanced stage of talks for a grand anti-BJP alliance in Maharashtra, Dalit leader Prakash Ambedkar’s party, Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh (BBM), has tied up with the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM). While NCP and Congress want to draft Prakash Ambedkar in the alliance, the Dalit leader has refused any tie-up with Pawar’s party.

So where does this all leave the grand alliance or the Congress?

Mayawati’s decision is significant for Uttar Pradesh, where the Congress has been hoping to join her as a tail-ender in the alliance between the major players—the SP and the BSP for the Lok Sabha polls. Political observers believe things will improve for the grand alliance only if the Congress is able to improve its performance in the coming assembly polls, especially in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. It is only after the crucial state election that the fate of the grand alliance will be known. Till then the BJP can trash the idea of an alliance.

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