The realisation is growing among members of the INDI Alliance that, given all the permutations and combinations, the Congress is the only party that will benefit in future elections from the proposed united front against the NDA. After obtaining concessions in states ruled by other opposition parties, the Congress will benefit in terms of seats in the Lok Sabha, thereby strengthening its bid for the Prime Minister’s post if the NDA fails to get a majority. On the other hand, regional parties will get very little in return, as they will be granted few seats in other states on the principle of winnability. Even those conceded will be unwinnable marginal ones, just as a formality.
It is no wonder that state and local level leaders of the constituent parties are speaking out strongly against conceding any space to what is essentially a rival party. AAP leaders in Punjab and Delhi, along those of the TMC in West Bengal, have even threatened to resign en masse if this is done. They are realising what the BSP understood a long time ago about tie-ups where there is incompatibility on the ground. The voters are, after all, not sheep to be herded from one pen to another. A particular party may be their first choice, but they may not accept its suggestion to shift to another party at anybody’s behest. At many places, it is the BJP that is the second party of preference.
It can already be seen how the Congress is appropriating the role of alliance leader, with its President Mallikarjun Kharge and Supreme Leader Sonia Gandhi speaking on its behalf. And while the alliance partners may not be benefiting much from coming together, they are facing the repercussions of their allies’ actions – such as the recent attack on Sanatan Dharma by Udhayanidhi Stalin. Much discomfort is being felt as they try to make their own positions clear on the subject, while avoiding seeming to condemn Stalin. There is some time for elections to be held to the Lok Sabha and, without a doubt more such embarrassments are in store.
So, while it will be difficult for top level leaders to withdraw from the alliance, it will be difficult to replicate the ‘bonhomie’ at the ground level. It can be expected that the alliance will be soon reduced to a mere façade that will remain till the elections are over. After that, each constituent will be on its own.